For a minute there, it seemed like the Philadelphia Flyers might enter an era in which splashy moves rarely happened.
Maybe those days are still largely over, but the past echoes in an eyebrow-raising deal: the Flyers send Nicklas Grossmann and the contract of Chris Pronger (their phrasing) to the Arizona Coyotes for Sam Gagner and a conditional draft pick in 2016 and 2017.
These are believed to be the conditions:
Per Don Maloney: The pick #Coyotes are sending the Flyers in the Grossmann trade is either a 4th-round pick in 2016 or a 3rd-rounder in 2017
Philly’s side: While the Flyers have been able to stash Pronger’s cap hit on LTIR once the season starts, they’ve been somewhat limited in their moves during each summer thanks to that albatross (not to mention Nicklas Grossmann’s $3 million cap hit). Philadelphia gets an interesting piece in Gagner; it’s easy to forget that the flawed-yet-skilled forward is still just 25.
I hate that the Pronger situation is legal. Just hate it. It's stupid. But I get it too.
Arizona’s side: The Coyotes can spin Dave Tippett’s approval of Grossman all they’d like, but it’s ultimately about money.
Pronger’s cap hit is $4.94 million, but his salary is just $575K for the next two campaigns. There’s no sense denying how much money this franchise needs to save – at least in the near future – and Pronger’s deal is very helpful in that regard.
Important to note Ariz only adds $500,000 to its hockey budget with Pronger contract. Plan is to still be active in the free agent market.
What matters more: a hat trick, or a two-goal, two-assist night? Maybe the tiebreaker can be who ends up the winner.
I’m going with that, and thus handing Sunday’s top star to Karlsson. “Wild Bill” broke a 20-game goal drought with the third hat trick of his NHL career. The Ducks almost ended up spoiling his big night (more on that here, and in a moment), but Vegas held strong. Now the Golden Knights are on a six-game winning streak.
For all we know, a Karlsson hot streak could be the difference between Vegas winning the Pacific Division or not.
Both Henrique and Ritchie authored those two-goal, two-assist nights discussed in the first star section.
Henrique provided the greatest dramatics, as his two goals unexpectedly sent Sunday’s Golden Knights – Ducks game to OT.
Henrique now has 23 goals and 37 points in 62 games this season. It would be tempting to call the 30-year-old a possible trade deadline target, but his $5.825M AAV extends to 2023-24, so I’m not sure teams really want to take that type of risk.
The Oilers managed remarkably well without number 97, but it must have been exhilarating to get him back. Perhaps it even gave Oilers GM Ken Holland the extra push to trade forMike Green later on Sunday?
Either way, it was a promising return by McDavid. The all-world player scored a goal and two assists, pushing his 2019-20 totals to 31 goals and 84 points in just 56 games. It’s pretty staggering that players are skilled enough to generate such numbers in a very clamped-down NHL (even if games are slightly higher scoring lately).
Anders Lee (2G, 1A), Jordan Binnington (32 out of 33 saves) and Anton Khudobin (31 out of 32) rank as other players worthy of honorable mentions. When in doubt, go with McDavid, especially during a return from injury.
Highlight of the Night (yes, from a great return by Connor McDavid)
Is it wrong to describe this as “vintage McDavid?” McDavid celebrated his return with a triumphant, very “McDavid” goal:
The Blues have only allowed two goals total over the last four games, all wins. That’s only the eighth time they’ve managed to allow two or fewer over a four-game span during their history. Remarkably, they last pulled off the feat in February 2019. (NHL PR)
The Ducks saved a wild comeback worthy of William Karlsson (aka “Wild Bill”), but the Golden Knights ultimately salvaged a 6-5 OT win.
Golden Knights stay hot by squeaking by in OT
Karlsson admitted it as much: Vegas started to run out of gas. After all, the Golden Knights completed a stretch of three games in four nights.
After going 20 games without a goal, Karlsson exploded for his third career hat trick. Shea Theodore‘s overtime-winner pushed the Golden Knights’ winning streak to an impressive six games.
Vegas: 76 points in 64 games played (34-22-8)
Edmonton: 73 in 62 (33-22-7)
Vancouver: 72 in 61 (33-22-6)
As you can see, the Oilers and Canucks rank as big threats to that Pacific crown with games in hand. That only cements the thought that this would have hurt very, very badly if the Ducks rampaged back for a win.
Adam Henrique nearly rallied that victory. He scored the Ducks’ two last goals to send the contest to OT, and also generated two assists for a four-point night. Nick Ritchie also factored heavily into the proceedings with two goals and two assists of his own.
Anaheim is in sell mode, and at a crossroads. But could this once-proud franchise serve as a pesky upset threat down the stretch?
Also, one wonders if Peter DeBoer felt a sense of deja vu. The Golden Knights were collapsing late against a California team, only this time he was behind Vegas’ bench, and his team was facing the Ducks. Oh yeah, and the Golden Knights were the overtime winners this time around.
Overall, this seems like a no-brainer for the Red Wings. They need to stockpile picks, so getting a fourth that could become a third — especially in 2020 — is pretty nifty. That’s especially true because, frankly, Green’s perceived value has never been lower.
So far in 2019-20, the 34-year-old only has three goals and 11 points in 48 games.
That’s a far cry from his days as a near-Norris-winning high-scorer. If the knocks on Green’s game were unfair back then, they feel more accurate now. Consider, for instance, his poor showings by Evolving Hockey’s RAPM Charts:
He’s very limited overall, but as a specialist who can potentially boost the Oilers’ offense? That makes him more interesting. There’s no denying that Ken Holland approves of Green’s game, being that he was his GM in Detroit and now Edmonton.
What do you make of the Oilers’ decision to trade for Mike Green? Was the price right or a little too rich? Again, I think Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman did very nicely with this one.
The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis is very much plugged into what the Oilers need, and he provided pretty effusive praise. At worst, it’s not much of an investment for Edmonton, although I’d still argue it’s solid work by Detroit.
This was a pretty good puck-moving defence for the Oilers tonight; Dave Tippett praised both Bear and Jones post-game.
Add a healthy Klefbom and then Green to the mix and this might be the best passing D Edmonton has iced in ages.
After a troubling lull early in 2020, the Blues are heating up again. St. Louis soundly defeated the Wild 4-1 on Sunday, pushing the Blues’ winning streak to four games.
Top Central Division teams pushing Blues
Again, the Blues have been heating up — and they haven’t been given much of a choice. At least, if they want to win the Central. The idle Avs are on a nice roll, while the Stars won their Sunday game.
Blues: 82 points in 63 games played (36-17-10) Avalanche: 79 points in 61 GP (36-18-7) Stars: 78 points in 62 GP (36-20-6)
Considering Colorado’s games in hand, it looks like the Central race could end up being close. Managing at least one round of home-ice advantage might come down to grinding out wins like the one the Blues managed on Sunday.
The Wild built a modicum of confidence by winning two games in a row before this one.
Minnesota seemed to put forth a pretty good effort, at least early on. Sunday stands as another game where they may shake their heads at missed opportunities. Minnesota’s man advantage went 0-for-4, and also allowed a shorthanded goal that took any steam out of a comeback bid.
The Wild ended Sunday outside of the West’s top eight with 65 points in 61 games played. While this loss doesn’t condemn them outright, you have to wonder if GM Bill Guerin might be a little bit more willing to sell off another piece or two.