Get your game notes: Sabres at Blues

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the St. Louis Blues hosting the Buffalo Sabres at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• STL is coming off its first loss in its last eight games – a 2-1 loss vs. NSH on Saturday, which allowed the Predators to pass the Blues for first place in the Central Division.

• Prior to that loss, the Blues’ 7-game winning streak tied Anaheim‟s 7-game winning streak (Oct. 11-24) for the longest stretch of wins in the NHL this season.

• RW Vladimir Tarasenko, who leads the Blues with 17 points (9G-8A), had 8G-3A during that 7-game winning streak, in addition to the shootout winner vs. NYR on Nov. 3. Heading into tonight, the 22-year-old Yaroslavl, Russia, native has 5G-3A during his current 5-game point streak – which matches a career-high (fourth time).

• G Jake Allen won all three of his starts during the win streak (ANA, STL, NJ).

• After losing the highest-paid unrestricted free agent goaltender in Ryan Miller (paid $6.25 million last season) in the offseason, STL chose to go with the goaltending tandem of Brian Elliott ($2.3 million this season) and Jake Allen ($850,000). The pair has been a surprising bright spot, combining for 9 wins and 3 shutouts.

• STL is allowing just 1.93 goals/game (T-3rd best in NHL).

• Elliott, who is expected to start tonight, is 5-3-1 with a 2.06 GAA and .923 SV% this season.

• Elliott has a “Mr. Moose” character featured on the back of his regular goaltending mask as a tribute to Owen Scott, who died in 2005. Scott was a family friend and a champion moose caller. But tonight, Elliott will wear a special Veterans Day-themed mask delivered to him by 92-year-old WWII veteran and St. Louis resident Charles Rohde. As a technical sergeant in the U.S. Army, Rohde saved ammunition and records from a burning truck on D-Day in Normandy.

• BUF, the worst team in the NHL, has scored the fewest goals in the league this season (18), while allowing the most (53). The Sabres have just one non-shootout victory this season, a 2-1 win over the Sharks on Oct. 25.

• BUF is averaging an NHL-worst 1.12 goals/game and has only scored more than 2 goals in a game once this season – a 4-3 (SO) victory over CAR on Oct. 14.

• The Sabres are an NHL-worst 2-for-50 (4%) on the power play this season. Per Elias, the 2 power-play goals are the fewest BUF has ever scored through its first 16 games of a season.

• BUF head coach Ted Nolan: “There‟s no one on a big, white horse that is going to come and save us. We have to somehow get the message. If we want good things, we‟ve got to work for it.”


• STL leads all-time series 52-45-13-0 (W-L-T-OL).

• STLwon both meetings last season by 2-1 and 4-1 margins.

• STL has won 4 straight against BUF and is 14-2-0 in their last 16 meetings. In those 16 meetings, the Blues have scored 3 or more goals 13 times.

• STL will wear special camouflage jerseys during warmups tonight that will be signed by players and auctioned and raffled off in honor of Veterans Day.


• BUF: D Josh Gorges has blocked an NHL-best 58 shots, 11 more than any other player.

• STL: The Blues are 6-2-1 in one-goal games this season.


• BUF: Marcus Foligno (upper-body) is day-to-day. He has been given the “green light” and is expected to play tonight.

• STL: RW T.J. Oshie (concussion) is “nowhere near” a return and is not expected to play tonight.


• BUF: RW Chris Stewart: 8G-7A in 9 career GP vs. STL (all with COL).

• BUF: RW Drew Stafford: Despite being the Sabres‟ leading scorer this season and the longest-tenured player on the team, he has 0 points in 4 career GP vs. STL.

• STL: G Brian Elliott: 10-0-2, 1.74 GAA, .941 SV% in 12 career GP vs. BUF.

• STL: C Paul Stastny: 6 points in 5 career GP vs. BUF.


• RW Drew Stafford, the longest-tenured Sabre, leads BUF with 8 points (3G-5A). When Stafford was 21 and starting his career, the Sabres were a Presidents‟ Trophy team (2006-07 season). But now, at age 29, he‟s in the final year of his contract with a franchise that finished with its worst record in 42 years last season.

• In Monday‟s practice, Stafford, having spent his entire career with the Sabres on the wing, was moved to center. Head coach Ted Nolan said Stafford approached him with the idea to move back to a position he hasn‟t played at much since high school. “We‟re trying anything at this point, so we‟ll give it a shot and see how it goes,” Stafford said.

• RW Brian Gionta has 3 assists through 16 games, but has yet to score a goal in his first season with BUF. Gionta scored 20+ goals seven times in his 12 seasons with MTL/NJ.

• LW Marcus Foligno, one of four Sabres with multiple goals (2) this season, has been given the “green light” and is expected to return tonight after missing the last five games with an upper-body injury.

• BUF has the fewest players (4) with multiple goals this season. FLA has the second fewest (5).

• G Michal Neuvirth, who is 2-4-1, with a 2.66 GAA and .929 SV% is expected to make the start tonight.

• Neuvirth is from the Czech Republic, where former Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek is a hero for leading the country to the 1998 Olympic gold medal. Neuvirth has included a painting of Hasek, along with an old Sabres logo, on the side of his goaltending mask.


• The line of RW Vladimir Tarasenko, C Jori Lehtera and LW Jaden Schwartz has combined for 17 points in the last 5 games. But after losing to NSH on Saturday, head coach Ken Hitchcock said: “Quite frankly, we’re sitting on one line doing everything for us right now. We’re going to need a lot more from people if we expect to be good in (the Central Division).”

• Lehtera, who previously played with Tarasenko at Sibir Novosibirsk in the KHL, has 3G-8A in his first NHL season.

• Captain C David Backes, a two-time U.S. Olympian, returned to the lineup on Nov. 1 vs. COL after missing one game with a concussion. He was third on STL with 57 points last season, but has just 3G-3A so far this season in 13 games, putting him seventh on the team with 6 points.

• RW T.J. Oshie is expected to remain out this week after suffering a concussion vs. DAL on Oct. 30. He has 1 assist in 8 games this season, one in which he‟s helping raise his 8-month-old daughter and care for his father with Alzheimer‟s off the ice.

• Oshie became a worldwide star last February at the Sochi 2014 Games, converting 4 of 6 shootout attempts vs. Russia to give the U.S. a 3-2 victory in the preliminary round. He is 27-for-49 (55.1%) in shootouts in six-plus seasons with STL, including an NHL-leading 9 shootout goals last season. He is 0-for-1 on shootout attempts this season.

• C Paul Stastny, activated from the injured reserve last week after missing 8 games with a shoulder injury, has 1G-3A in six games in his first season with the Blues. Stastny signed a 4-year/$28 million deal with STL in July.

PHT Morning Skate: Maroon’s future uncertain; Gillis wants NHL return

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at

Patrick Maroon isn’t sure if he’ll be back in St. Louis this season. (

• NHL commentators with rave reviews for Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland on Milan Lucic trade. (Edmonton Journal)

• After fives years away traveling the world and expanding his hockey mind, Mike Gillis is ready to return to the NHL — just not as a general manager. (Sportsnet)

John Tavares knows Mitch Marner will play for the Maple Leafs this season. (

• Jets could find great value in acquiring Stars’ Honka. (Winnipeg Sun)

• The Vancouver Canucks have improved more than any team in the Pacific. (The Canuck Way)

James Neal is feeling re-invigorated after move to Edmonton. (Global News)

• Colorado Avalanche star forward Mikko Rantanen isn’t going to the KHL. (Mile High Hockey)

• Flyers need impact from Hayes, Vigneault. (

• After years of stunted talks, Calgary may be ready to build a new hockey arena. (Globe and Mail)

• What it may take for a player to reach 50 goals or 100 points this season with the New Jersey Devils. (All About the Jersey)

• Predicting how long the Penguins’ Stanley Cup window will stay open. (Pensburgh)

• The Predators should make a push for Nikita Gusev. (Predlines)

• Why Peter DeBoer is confident Sharks can fill Joe Pavelski‘s scoring void. (NBC Sports Bay Area)

• Coyotes need more offense from well-paid blue line. (The Athletic)

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Blues, Sundqvist avoid arbitration with four-year, $11 million contract

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The St. Louis Blues locked up another piece of their Stanley Cup winning team on Sunday when they re-signed restricted free agent forward Oskar Sundqvist to a four-year contract.

Sundqvist, 25, had filed for salary arbitration and a hearing scheduled for this week.

That will no longer be necessary thanks to this new deal.

According to the Blues the contract will pay Sundqvist a total of $11 million, averaging out to a salary cap hit of $2.75 million per season.

The Blues acquired Sundqvist, as well as a first-round draft pick that was used to select forward Klim Kostin, prior to the 2017-18 season in the trade that sent Ryan Reaves and a second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins. After managing just a single goal and four assists in in 42 games in his debut season with the Blues, Sundqvist had a breakout season in 2018-19 with 14 goals and 17 assists in 74 regular season games.

He also played a big depth role in the playoffs by adding four goals and five assists in 25 playoff games.

With Sundqvist back in the mix the Blues now have two more restricted free agents to sign in forward Ivan Barbashev and defender Joel Edmundson. Edmundson has an arbitration hearing scheduled for August 4. The Blues have already successfully avoided arbitration hearings with starting goalie Jordan Binnington, forward Zach Sanford, and now Sundqvist, so it seems reasonable to assume they will be able to settle with Edmundson as well.

The Blues still have around $5 million in salary cap space to work with this summer.

More Blues content

• Binnington signs two-year, $8.8 million deal
Fabbri gets one-year deal from Blues
• PHT Stanley Cup Tracker: Maroon takes Cup back to St. Louis for some toasted ravioli

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

Why Rangers should consider trading Chris Kreider right now


The New York Rangers have undergone one of the most significant transformations in the league this offseason with the additions of Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox, and the good fortune that saw them move to No. 2 in the draft lottery where they selected Kaapo Kakko.

It has drastically changed the look of the team on the ice, both for the long-term and the short-term, and also significantly altered their salary cap structure.

With the new contracts for Panarin and Trouba adding $19.6 million to their salary cap number (for the next seven years) it currently has the Rangers over the cap for this season while still needing to re-sign three restricted free agents, including Pavel Buchnevich who is coming off of a 21-goal performance in only 64 games.

Obviously somebody is going to have to go at some point over the next year, and it remains entirely possible that “somebody” could be veteran forward Chris Kreider given his contract situation and the team’s new salary cap outlook.

Perhaps even as soon as this summer by way of a trade.

What makes it so complicated for Kreider and the Rangers is that he will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and will be in line for a significant pay raise from his current $4.6 million salary cap number.

It is a tough situation for general manager Jeff Gorton and new team president John Davidson to tackle.

If you are looking at things in a more short-term window there is at least a decent argument for trying to keep Kreider this season, and perhaps even beyond. For one, he is still a really good player. He scored 28 goals this past season, still brings a ton of speed to the lineup, and is still an important part of the roster.

Even though the Rangers missed the playoffs by a significant margin this past season (20 points back) they are not that far away from being able to return to the postseason. Maybe even as early as this season if everything goes absolutely perfect. They added a top-10 offensive player in the league (Panarin), a top-pairing defender (Trouba), another promising young defender with potential (Fox), a potential superstar (Kakko), and still have a goalie (Henrik Lundqvist) that can change a season if he is on top of his game. It is not a given, and not even likely, but the window is at least starting to open.

Even if they do not make it this season they are not so far away that Kreider could not still be a potentially productive member of that next playoff team.

The salary cap situation will be complicated, but the Rangers can easily trim elsewhere in a variety of ways, whether it be utilizing the second buyout window or trading another, less significant part of the roster. As we just saw this past week, there is no contract in the NHL that is completely unmovable.

They COULD do it.

But just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, and that is the big issue the Rangers have to face with one of their most important players.

Should they keep him and try to sign him to a new long-term contract?

For as good as Kreider still is, and for as much as the Rangers have improved this summer, they still have to think about the big-picture outlook.

That means separating what a player has done for you from what that player will do for you in the future. For a team like the Rangers that is still building for something beyond this season, the latter part is the only thing that matters.

The reality of Kreider’s situation is that he is going to be 29 years old when his next contract begins, will be making significantly more than his current salary, and is almost certainly going to be on the threshold of a significant decline in his production (assuming it has not already started).

Let’s try to look at this as objectively as possible.

Kreider just completed his age 27 season, has played 470 games in the NHL, and averaged 0.29 goals per game and 0.59 points per game for his career.

There were 12 forwards in the NHL this past season that had similar numbers through the same point in their careers (at least 400 games played, at least 0.25 goals per game, and between 0.50 and 0.60 points per game). That list included Adam Henrique, Ryan Callahan, Wayne Simmonds, Ryan Kesler, Dustin Brown, Drew Stafford, Andrew Ladd, Tomas Tatar, Jordan Staal, David Perron, Lee Stempniak, and Kyle Turris.

This is not a perfect apples to apples comparison here because a lot of the players in that group play different styles and have different skillsets. They will not all age the exact same way or see their talents deteriorate in the same way. But what should concern the Rangers is that almost every one of the players on that list that is currently over the age of 30 has seen their production fall off a cliff. Some of them now carry contracts that look regrettable for their respective teams.

It is pretty much a given that as a player gets closer to 30 and plays beyond that their production is going to decline. Teams can get away with paying elite players into their 30s because even if they decline their production is still probably going to be better than a significant part of the league. Maybe Panarin isn’t an 80-point player at age 30 or 31, but it is a good bet he is still a 65-or 70-point player and a legitimate top-line winger.

Players like Kreider that aren’t starting at that level don’t have as much wiggle room, and when they decline from their current level they start to lose some (or even a lot) of their value.

Given the Rangers’ salary cap outlook, that is probably a risk they can not afford to take with Kreider long-term because it is far more likely that a new contract becomes an albatross on their cap than a good value.

You also have to consider that the Rangers have long-term options at wing that will quickly push Kreider down the depth chart.

Panarin is one of the best wingers in the league. Over the past two years they used top-10 picks in potential impact wingers (Kaako this year and Vitali Kravtsov a year ago). Buchnevich just turned 24 and has already shown 20-goal potential in the NHL.

As Adam Herman at Blueshirt Banter argued immediately after the signing of Panarin, committing more than $6 million per year to a winger that, in the very near future, may only be the fourth or fifth best winger on the team is a very questionable (at best) move in a salary cap league and gives them almost zero margin for error elsewhere on the roster.

Right now Kreider still has a lot of value to the Rangers for this season. He is probably making less than his market value, is still one of their best players, and still makes them better right now.

But when you look at the situation beyond this season his greatest value to them probably comes in the form of a trade chip because it not only means they can acquire an asset (or two) whose career better aligns with their next best chance to compete for a championship, but it also means they do not have to pay a soon-to-be declining, non-elite player a long-term contract into their 30s, a situation that almost never works out favorably for the team.

The Rangers have had to trade some key players and make some tough decisions during this rebuild.

They should be strongly considering making the same decision with Kreider.

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

PHT Stanley Cup Tracker: Pat Maroon takes Cup back to St. Louis for some toasted ravioli

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The PHT Stanley Cup tracker will keep tabs on how the St. Louis Blues spend their summer celebrating.

Patrick Maroon probably could have had bigger contract offers last summer, while the one-year deal he ended up signing with the St. Louis Blues was a slight pay cut from his previous contract.

But he took a little less to get an opportunity to play for his hometown team and try to bring the city its first ever Stanley Cup. He helped the Blues do just that during the 2018-19 season, and even scored a couple of massive goals during the playoffs, including a double overtime Game 7 goal in Round 2 to clinch their series against the Dallas Stars.

This past week he had his opportunity to spend the day with the Stanley Cup and, naturally, took it back to St. Louis for the first time since the Blues’ initial Stanley Cup celebration.

It was quite a journey.

On Friday night the Stanley Cup made a surprise appearance The Muny, America’s largest and oldest outdoor musical theatre, to surprise the crowd that was there to watch a performance of Footloose.

It made quite an entrance!

From there, it went to the Maroon residence on Saturday morning for a special photo opportunity, 20 years after he had his picture taken with it at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Keeping with the tradition of using the Stanley Cup as a cereal bowl, Cinnamon Toast Crunch was consumed out of it with Maroon cleaning it out afterwards himself, according to Philip Pritchard, the keeper of the Cup.

Maroon then took it to the All-American Sports Mall in South St. Louis — where he played inline hockey as a kid — to share the experience with 250 family and friends.

Included among the friends were former teammates and coaches from his time as a youth roller hockey player.

Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“Everyone makes fun of me playing roller hockey, but this is where I grew up playing,” he said. “To bring it back here is a very special day for me. To cherish these moments with the 250 people I invited, it’s a really private event that I feel like I know everyone here. To share that day with everyone, it really is amazing. It’s a big reunion for all of us to see each other and smile.

“It’s been one of the coolest memories I’ll ever have. It really doesn’t get full circle until you actually leave it, and wow, the Stanley Cup was just at All-American, the rink where I used to come from 9 in the morning to 5 o’clock and just sit and be a rink rat. It’s awesome.”

After that, it was off for a St. Louis speciality and some toasted ravioli at Charlie Gitto’s for lunch.

It was there that Maroon was joined by Blues super fan Laila Anderson.

Maroon ended his day at a nearby lake for private time with family and friends.

Before the Stanley Cup made its way back to St. Louis this past week, defender Robert Bortuzzo also had his day with the cup and took it to his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

“I’ll never be able to truly repay what this community has meant for me and my career in terms of growing up playing hockey as a young kid here,” Bortuzzo said, via the “It meant a lot for me to come and give the chance for some people to see it and put some smiles on faces at George Jeffrey. It was an easy decision to share it with a great community.”

While boating, Bortuzzo decided to help himself to a snack of assorted meats and cheeses.

The PHT Stanley Cup tracker

 Week 1: Cup heads to the Canadian prairies
• Week 2: Stanley Cup heads east to Ontario

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