Brodeur won’t rule out playing for a different team

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Martin Brodeur will start in goal for the New Jersey Devils tonight in Toronto. The 39-year-old is hoping he can get his season back on track soon.

“Teams have scored a lot of goals against me,” Brodeur said, as per NorthJersey.com “That’s something that, hopefully, will change in the near future because we need to win and in this league if you allow more than three goals a game, it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

Brodeur is 5-7-0 with a 3.31 goals-against average and .879 save percentage, numbers that have led many to believe his time as an elite NHL goalie is up.

The future Hall of Fame inductee, whose contract expires at the end of the season, is even being asked whether he’d consider playing for a team other than the Devils.

“In the future you never know, but I don’t want to,” Brodeur said today, as per the Star-Ledger. “But if I want to play — and I have so much respect for this organization — and if they don’t feel I’m the guy for them and they want to move on, if I still want to play I have to look after myself. I don’t see that happening, but I can’t say no.”

By the way, the Devils have lost four straight by a combined score of 17-7.

Lightning have everything it takes to win another Stanley Cup

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There is no longer a “yeah, but…” hanging over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Now that this core of players has its championship, there can no longer be any debate as to where they stand among the best teams of this era. For six years now they have been the best team in hockey. Nobody has won more games than them in the regular season, nobody has won more games than them in the playoffs, and they finally — finally! — had everything go their way at the right time.

The idea that this team has somehow “underachieved” come playoff time is completely unfair and takes away from the daunting challenge that is winning the Stanley Cup. They have been in the Eastern Conference Final in four of the past six seasons, and twice made it through to the Stanley Cup Final. In the other two years they lost Game 7s to the team that went on to eventually win the Stanley Cup. No other team in the league has consistently gone that far in the playoffs during that stretch. It was only a matter of time until a team this successful and this good had it all click.

The Lightning are a lesson in patience, trusting your talent, and sticking to your plan that you know is successful, instead of overreacting and dismantling something before you have to.

They are a lesson in not being afraid to go for it at the trade deadline and add the one or two pieces you need to fully round out your roster (Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow). A late first-round pick might make it to the NHL someday. There is a small chance they will have a productive career. But banners? Banners hang forever.

[More: Lightning win Stanley Cup]

Now that they have this banner, there is no reason to think they can not add another one in the very near future with this core.

Potentially as soon as next season.

They have every ingredient on their roster to do it again.

For starters, we already know this team is capable of making a deep run. Even when it fell short of a championship in recent years it was still RIGHT THERE on the threshold of greatness.

  • They went through this postseason without the face of their franchise, Steven Stamkos. He will be back next season and is still an elite goal scorer.
  • They have a superstar in Nikita Kucherov that is one of the most dominant offensive players in the league and still in the prime of his career.
  • Brayden Point has gone from “good young player” to “top-tier scorer” in the blink of an eye.
  • Victor Hedman is the best all-around defenseman in hockey, and for as much as we talk about their offensive brilliance, they are also a fantastic defensive team.
  • They have a dominant second line of Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde, and Barclay Goodrow returning for what should be a bargain price.
  • As if that is not enough, they also have one of the league’s best goalies in Andrei Vasilevskiy, also still in the prime of his career. This team is so good and so loaded that Vasilevskiy just went through a Stanley Cup winning postseason where he played every minute in goal for his team, posted a .927 save percentage, recorded a shutout in the Cup-clinching game, and was not even one of the top-three or four contenders for the Conn Smythe trophy. He was an afterthought.

It is an insanely talented and deep roster with almost all of the major players under contract long-term.

[Related: What is next for Dallas Stars?]

That brings us to the questions they do have to face this offseason.

For starters, their blue line could take a hit in free agency as Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Braydon Coburn are the only players currently under contract for next season.

Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak are restricted free agents, while Kevin Shattenkirk, Luke Schenn, and Zach Bogosian are unrestricted.

Shattenkirk would be a big loss, and it is difficult to see them being able to bring him back on another cheap deal given the season he had, but they do still have the rights to Sergachev and Cernak.

Restricted free agency is going to be tricky. Along with the two defenders, they also have to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Carter Verhaege. At the moment, the Lightning have just a little more than $5 million in salary cap space at their disposal.

That will not be enough to re-sign all of Sergachev, Cirelli, Verhaege, and Cernak, so some corresponding moves will have to be made. Tyler Johnson ($5 million cap hit) and Alex Killorn ($4.5 million cap hit) would seem to be the most logical places to start. The only potential issue there is both players have no-trade clauses as part of their contracts. That doesn’t mean they can not or will not be moved. And while such a move would hurt, it is another good argument for why the Coleman and Goodrow trades were so impactful given their value and cheap contracts for next season.

In the end, the Lightning roster will almost certainly look a little different next season. But as long as the same core is in place, and as long as they continue to have a steady pipeline of young talent coming through their system (could someone like Alex Barre-Boulet be their next hidden gem?) there is no reason to think they are going away as Stanley Cup favorites.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Stars’ biggest questions: Can they re-sign Khudobin, unleash young scorers?

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The Dallas Stars have been one of the most oddly fascinating teams in the league over the past two seasons.

Sometimes they look and feel like a team that isn’t as good as it could be or should be.

Sometimes — as was the case early last season when Jim Lites publicly blew a gasket over their performance — that feeling even comes from within its own organization.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season their regular season performance has been the definition of average with a win total and points percentage over the past two years that each rank 15th out of the league’s 31 teams.

They are one of the worst offensive teams in the league, but thanks to a pair of No. 1 defensemen and an elite goaltending duo they are the best team at preventing goals. They have also gone through a pair of coaching changes since the end of the 2017-18 season, going from Ken Hitchcock to Jim Montgomery, and then from Montgomery to Rick Bowness in the middle of this season.

There is every reason to shrug your shoulders at this team with a feeling of indifference, especially when compared to the teams we think of as Stanley Cup contenders in the West (Colorado and Vegas specifically).

Average regular season, great postseason

But here is a wild fact that might shock you: Over the past two years no team in the league has won more playoff games than the Stars’ 22. They were a Game 7 double overtime loss away from reaching the Western Conference Final a year ago (seven wins), and were two wins away from a Stanley Cup this season (15 postseason wins, including the Round Robin phase).

Along the way they beat a Nashville team a year ago that was a top-3 seed in the West, then took the eventual Stanley Cup champion Blues to double overtime in a Game 7.

This year they knocked off Colorado and Vegas — arguably the two best teams in the West on paper and the two biggest favorites — in consecutive rounds, and then took Tampa Bay to six games in the Stanley Cup Final.

They did all of that despite getting badly outshot and having an even (112-112) goal differential in those two postseasons.

A lot of it is a testament to the power of goaltending, and the Stars have two outstanding ones lead the way in each of those playoff runs. A year ago it was Ben Bishop (.933 save percentage) taking over, and this year it was Anton Khudobin standing on his head in the Western Conference Final. They also have two sensational defensemen in Miro Heiskanen (a rising superstar) and John Klingberg (still criminally underrated around the league). As long as they have that combination it is going to keep them in games and give them a chance to succeed in the playoffs.

It has gotten them close two years in a row. Now the question becomes how do they not only get back, but also go one step further.

Can they re-sign Khudobin?

Bishop and Khudobin has been an elite duo the past two years and the biggest driving factor in their postseason success these past two years. Bishop is still signed for three more years, but Khudobin is set to become an unrestricted free agent in two weeks.

The Stars have $15 million in salary cap space to work with and three key restricted free agents to re-sign (Radek Faksa, Roope Hintz, and Denis Gurianov). Is there enough to keep the goalie duo in place? And if so, can they still count on two goalies in their mid-30s to keep playing at that level? Given their play the past two years, as well as the fact they lessen each other’s workload there is no reason to anticipate a sudden drop-off. But considering how important they are to the Stars’ success, they need them to maintain that level.

Will they give their young players more responsibility?

The Stars’ top-two goal-scorers during the 2019-20 regular season were Gurianov (20 goals in 64 games) and Hintz (19 goals in 60 games).

Each of them averaged more than one goal per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, with Gurianov scoring 1.08 per 60 and Hintz scoring 1.03 per 60.

Out of the 531 skaters that logged at least 500 minutes of ice-time across the league, both numbers were good enough to place them in the top-60 league-wide.

No other player on the Stars team averaged more than 0.70 goals per 60 minutes. Along with that, each had strong underlying numbers in terms of possession and expected goals. They were highly effective players.

Why does that matter? Among Stars forwards that played at least 10 games this postseason, here is where Gurianov and Hintz ranked in 5-on-5 ice-time per game: 10th (Gurianov) and 13th (Hintz). Is that enough?

To be fair, Hintz left two games early due to injury to drop his average ice time a little (even if you exclude those games he is still low on the roster) and he did miss the final two games of the Final. But even when healthy he was still playing far less than his production seemed to warrant.

Yes, Gurianov went cold down the stretch. And yes, the Stars play a more conservative and defensive-minded game than some other teams. But at some point don’t you have to turn some of these guys loose and try to get an extra goal, because an extra goal or two in the playoffs can be the difference between heartbreak and a banner ceremony.

That’s not to say simply playing either one more would have produced a different result. But they DO need to find a way to create more offense, and they have two pretty good candidates sitting on their roster right now that may not be utilized enough.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

 

Sabres GM: ‘No intention’ to trade Jack Eichel, even though teams are calling

Sabres GM: 'No intention' to trade Jack Eichel, even though teams are calling
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With Jack Eichel trade rumors swirling, still-new Sabres GM Kevyn Adams told WGR 550 that he has “no intention” of moving the star center.

“People call and make phone calls and ask about players every day,” Adams said, via WGR 550. “My job is to listen, and we have no intention of shopping Jack Eichel. People call and you have conversations. That’s it.”

Sabres would be almost certain to “lose” a Jack Eichel trade

It’s good that Adams claimed he has “no intention” of sending Jack Eichel away in a trade.

Now, sure, if I were a Sabres fan, I’d crave something even more emphatic. I’d probably want Adams to say, “Sure, teams call. And then I laugh at them, and slam my phone. It’s actually why I use a landline; you can’t really slam your cell phone to end a call, unless you want to break that phone.”

(OK, maybe Adams doesn’t need to get that procedural about hanging up on people, but you get the point.)

Simply put, teams usually don’t win trades when they move young stars (Eichel is 23). TSN’s Bob McKenzie did some digging and learned that the New York Rangers ranked among the teams reportedly calling about Eichel. Scan the Rangers’ assets and ask yourself: what kind of trade package would make it worthwhile to move Jack Eichel?

Don’t repeat the Ryan O'Reilly trade debacle, Sabres

If nothing else, the Sabres getting burned badly by the Ryan O’Reilly trade should serve as an additional warning to scare off any sense of trading. Consider the parallels, even while noting that Eichel is at an even younger part of his career than ROR was:

  • Plenty of people were discouraging the Sabres from trading Ryan O’Reilly before they did it, including some clown.
  • To be fair, the Sabres faced some pressure thanks to public comments. ROR spoke about how all of the losing was killing the joy of hockey for him before the Sabres swap. Back in May, Jack Eichel opened up about how fed up he is with losing.
  • Even under normal circumstances, you’re in a tough spot while trading a star. That only gets worse when a) those players are making public pleas and b) you’ve been losing, and thus look vulnerable. Again, the stage would be set for the Sabres to make a huge mistake.

So, here’s hoping Adams legitimately has no intention of trading Jack Eichel.

Could Sabres trade No. 8 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft?

Assuming that Adams isn’t pulling a Marc Bergevin and playing coy (lying?) up to the moment that he trades a star player, the largely unproven new GM of the Sabres is off to a strong start. By just about any reasonable measure, landing Eric Staal for Marcus Johansson was a shrewd move.

The Athletic’s John Vogl points out that Adams also mentioned to WGR 550 the possibility of the Sabres trading their first-round pick (eighth overall), although they like some of the talent potentially available if they stick with it.

Now, moving the No. 8 pick? That’s an interesting possibility for Adams and the Sabres.

However you feel about Rasmus Ristolainen as a player, he made a great point about the Sabres being stuck in a long period of hoping for a better future.

The Sabres could easily get a strong player at No. 8, and there are ample benefits to squeezing out value from entry-level contract years, not to mention potential bargain second contracts.

But the Sabres want to win sooner rather than later, and Adams has a fascinating opportunity in front of him.

[More on 2020 NHL Draft: Full order of picks for all 31 teams, how to watch]

Via Cap Friendly, the Sabres have about $33.6M in cap space. That might be a little misleading, as that’s with only 11 roster spots accounted for.

Yet it does show that, in many ways, Adams enjoys a blank slate. Could Buffalo entice a cap-crunched team to cough up a serious player by also presenting the eighth overall pick and maybe relieving some of their cap concerns? That’s a big ask for a brand-new GM like Adams. Even so, it could be a fascinating opportunity.

Or, the Sabres could stick with that eighth pick, and possibly enjoy better returns.

Either way, if I’m Adams, I’m diverting any attention from Jack Eichel trade talks to seeing if someone would pay up big-time for that eighth overall pick.

Just don’t trade Jack Eichel, Sabres.

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