PHT Morning Skate: Malkin’s ‘weird’ season; trade deadline chatter

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 phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• A look at Evgeni Malkin’s ‘weird’ season. [Pensburgh]

• Whether Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky stay or go, Cam Atkinson is confident the Columbus Blue Jackets have what it takes to contend. [NHL.com]

• Why the Ottawa Senators should actually be buyers at the NHL trade deadline. [TSN]

• The New York Rangers could be in the final days of having Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes on the roster. [New York Post]

• Hayes should be someone the Winnipeg Jets ought to target. [Winnipeg Free Press]

• If the Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t going to go big at the trade deadline, they might as well just stay quiet. [Raw Charge]

• How will the contributions of the San Jose Sharks’ depth affect GM Doug Wilson’s trade deadline plans? [NBC Bay Area]

• Why Wayne Simmonds doesn’t fit as an ideal trade target for the Dallas Stars. [Defending Big D]

• Examining whether the Philadelphia Flyers should trade Shayne Gostisbehere. [Broad Street Hockey]

• Would Gustav Nyquist be a good fit for the Washington Capitals? [NBC Washington]

• A look at future options in goal for the Florida Panthers. [Panther Parkway]

Shea Weber has settled in nicely with the Montreal Canadiens. [Sportsnet]

• How Elias Pettersson took over Vancouver in his rookie season. [ESPN]

Anthony Bitetto taking advantage of his opportunity with the Minnesota Wild. [Pioneer Press]

• The Colorado Avalanche are in need of a reset. [Mile High Sticking]

• Meanwhile, overtimes have been a huge problem for the Avs this season. [Denver Post]

• Despite adding responsibility, Will Butcher has been handling it well for the New Jersey Devils. [All About the Jersey]

• Finally, NHLers hand out some advice on this Valentine’s Day:

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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    Pageau earns DoPS hearing after boarding Canucks’ Sautner

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    Jean-Gabriel Pageau only received a minor for boarding Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ashton Sautner Thursday night, but the Ottawa Senators forward could be punished again following his discipline hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety.

    The DoPS will be speaking with Pageau after his second period hit on Sautner. The Canucks blue liner left the game for a bit before returning to finish Vancouver’s 7-4 win over the Senators.

    Pageau, who took a big, unpenalized hit from Jake Virtanen earlier in the game, will likely be sitting for one or two games here. He eyes Sautner as he’s going to retrieve the puck along the boards and the Canucks defenseman does not peek behind him to see Pageau coming, nor does he change any part of his body before the Senators forward drills him between the numbers.

    Given Sautner’s position on the ice and the fact he didn’t know he was about to be hit from behind, Pageau does not try to minimize contact or avoid his check. That’s a textbook suspension.

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    Karlsson, Panarin, Bobrovsky can close strong and cash in

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    Many NHL teams have plenty to play for down the final stretch of the regular season, trying to get in the playoffs or to improve their positioning, before 16 teams compete for the Stanley Cup.

    Some players have a lot at stake, too.

    Erik Karlsson, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky are a few of the potential free agents in the league with a chance to close strong and cash in by re-signing with their teams or on the open market.

    The top trio of stars and some other standouts with a lot to gain financially when the season is finished, if not sooner:

    KARLSSON

    The San Jose Sharks acquired the two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman from Ottawa before the season started, hoping they would have him for more than a year. To keep Karlsson off the market as an unrestricted free agent, San Jose may have to at least match the eight-year, $88 million deal the Los Angeles Kings gave defenseman Drew Doughty to stay last summer.

    PANARIN

    Dynamic scorers like the Russian winger rarely are available in free agency and a team that wants to spend a lot of money over many years may be able to land an 80-point scorer. Panarin has already said he wants to see if there are better options in the summer than staying with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are simply hoping he helps them win at least a postseason series for the first time.

    BOBROVSKY

    Big-time goaltenders, like the two-time Vezina Trophy winner, usually stay with their teams and off the market. Like his teammate and fellow countryman, the 30-year-old Bobrovsky will probably want to make the most of his opportunity to make as much money as he can with his next deal while being at or near the prime or his career.

    Matt Duchene

    It was a good time for the center, and his bank account, to have one of the best years of his career. He’s averaging more than a point per game this season, starting with Ottawa, before being dealt to Columbus . If Panarin and Bobrovsky appear to be leaving in free agency after the season, the Blue Jackets may give the 28-year-old Duchene a lot to stay before the market opens.

    Jeff Skinner

    The center has a shot to surpass the 63 points he has reached twice before the team he plays for, the Buffalo Sabres, are relegated to watching the postseason for an eighth straight season. The Sabres want to re-sign Skinner, but he might be willing to take a seven-year deal – instead of the eight he can get to stay – and join a Stanley Cup contender.

    Jake Gardiner

    He has been out for nearly a month with a back injury, but barring it lingering into the playoffs to cast doubt on his long-term health, one of the best defensemen available will be paid well to stay in Toronto or to go play for another team.

    Wayne Simmonds

    The winger has not produced much offensively with Nashville, which acquired him from Philadelphia, and yet he will have a chance to make a lasting impression when it matters most in the playoffs. Simmonds has a rare combination of scoring ability, toughness and durability.

    RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

    There is an excellent group of players eligible to be restricted free agents, including: forwards Mikko Rantanen, William Karlsson, Brayden Point, Mitch Marner, Sebastian Aho and Matthew Tkachuk along with defensemen Jacob Trouba and Zach Werenski. Teams, though, rarely extend offer sheets to other franchise’s restricted free agents as Philadelphia did in 2012 with a $110 million, 14-year deal for Shea Weber, only to have the Predators match it.

    Push for the Playoffs: Blue Jackets’ need to take advantage of favorable schedule

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    Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2018-19 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

    The Carolina Hurricanes are beginning to strengthen their hold on an Eastern Conference playoff spot. That pretty much heats things up for both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens. Montreal’s only salvation is a wild card place, while the Blue Jackets (and Hurricanes) still have a shot at grabbing one of the Metropolitan Division’s three seeds.

    The Blue Jackets started off their four-game road trip with losses to the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames. They head to Edmonton tonight and Vancouver on Sunday in two games where heading home with four points in the bag could go a long way. Of their final nine games, only three come against teams currently in a playoff position. Then there’s March 28 when they host the Canadiens, which could be big boost for either team’s postseason dreams.

    “We’ve had a tough schedule, but if you want to make the playoffs and you want to do damage in the playoffs, those are the teams you have to beat,” said defenseman Scott Harrington. “It’s great to prepare us for what’s potentially upcoming and where we want to be.”

    Columbus’ biggest issue of late has been their inability to score. They’ve averaged only 2.2 goals per game in their last 12 games. Their big trade deadline acquisitions are still warming up. Matt Duchene has two goals in this last four games after going goalless in this first eight games with the Blue Jackets. Meanwhile, Ryan Dzingel has just one since being dealt from Ottawa.

    Given GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s moves at the deadline, there’s pressure on the entire organization to make the playoffs. Columbus is 5-6-1 since the deadline, and while they may have the NHL’s eighth-easiest schedule remaining, those opponents cannot be overlooked.

    “We’re not getting the results, which is frustrating, but the process is there,” said Duchene. “The second you deviate from the process is when you start to fail and deserve to fail. We’ll keep going and we’ll stay with it and take it one day at a time.”

    IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY
    Lightning vs. Blue Jackets
    Capitals vs. Hurricanes
    Islanders vs. Penguins
    Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

    Flames vs. Coyotes
    Jets vs. Stars
    Sharks vs. Golden Knights
    Predators vs. Blues

    TODAY’S GAMES WITH PLAYOFF CONTENDERS
    Coyotes at Panthers, 7 p.m. ET
    Bruins at Devils, 7 p.m. ET
    Lightning at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET
    Islanders at Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. ET
    Red Wings at Blues, 8 p.m. ET
    Penguins at Predators, 8 p.m. ET
    Flyers at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. ET
    Avalanche at Stars, 8:30 p.m. ET
    Senators at Flames, 9 p.m. ET
    Blue Jackets at Oilers, 9 p.m. ET
    Jets at Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET
    Sharks at Kings, 10:30 p.m. ET

    PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference)
    Lightning — Clinched
    Bruins — 100 percent
    Maple Leafs — 100 percent
    Capitals — 100 percent
    Islanders — 99.2 percent
    Penguins — 97.0 percent
    Hurricanes — 95.8 percent
    Blue Jackets — 72.7 percent
    Canadiens — 33.6 percent
    Flyers — 1.3 percent
    Panthers — 0.4 percent
    Sabres — Out
    Rangers — Out
    Devils — Eliminated
    Red Wings — Eliminated
    Senators — Eliminated

    PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference)
    Flames — Clinched
    Sharks — Clinched
    Jets — 100 percent
    Predators — 100 percent
    Golden Knights — 100 percent
    Blues — 99.7 percent
    Stars — 95.5 percent
    Coyotes — 54.2 percent
    Avalanche — 23.6 percent
    Wild — 15 percent
    Blackhawks — 10.4 percent
    Canucks — 1.3 percent
    Oilers — 0.3 percent
    Ducks — Out
    Kings — Eliminated

    JACK OR KAAPO? THE DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE
    Senators — 18.5 percent*
    Kings — 13.5 percent
    Red Wings — 11.5 percent
    Devils — 9.5 percent
    Ducks — 8.5 percent
    Rangers — 7.5 percent
    Sabres — 6.5 percent
    Oilers — 6 percent
    Canucks — 5 percent
    Blackhawks — 3.5 percent
    Wild — 3 percent
    Panthers — 2.5 percent
    Avalanche — 2 percent
    Flyers — 1.5 percent
    Canadiens — 1 percent
    (*COL owns OTT’s 2019 first-round pick)

    ART ROSS RACE
    Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning — 119 points
    Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers — 105 points
    Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks — 101 points
    Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins — 93 points
    Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames — 92 points

    ROCKET RICHARD RACE
    Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals — 48 goals
    Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers — 43 goals
    Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks — 41 goals
    John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs — 41 goals
    Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning — 38 goals
    Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks — 38 goals
    Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets — 38 goals

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    PHT Morning Skate: Story behind 2020 Winter Classic logo; Hobey Baker nominees

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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 phtblog@nbcsports.com.

    • The story behind the 2020 Winter Classic logo. [NHL.com]

    • Chris Drury has been named general manager of the 2019 U.S. National Team. Drury is currently an assistant GM with the New York Rangers. [USA Hockey]

    • The Maple Leafs’ problems could be bigger than their last four games. [Yahoo]

    • Adam Fox, Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar are among the 10 nominees for the 2019 Hobey Baker Award. [Hobey Baker]

    • What would today’s NHL look like if the salary cap didn’t exist? [USA Today]

    • This is a prime opportunity for the Winnipeg Jets to take control of the Central Division. [Sportsnet]

    • The story of Brady Keeper is one you’ll want to read today. [TSN]

    • The Vegas Golden Knights’ top line is stepping up at the right time. [Sin Bin Vegas]

    • Philadelphia Flyers forward Justin Bailey has reached out to a Buffalo-area youth hockey player who was subjected to racial slurs and taunts during a game in January. [NHL.com]

    • As they chase a playoff spot, the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves scoreboard watching. [NBC Chicago]

    Erik Cernak has emerged as an impactful member of the Tampa Bay Lightning blue line. [Raw Charge]

    • There’s no slowing down the Calgary Flames, even after clinching a playoff spot. [Calgary Herald]

    • Should the Rangers shut down some of their top players with the playoffs out of the picture? [Blueshirt Banter]

    • Ryan Donato has made the most of his new opportunity with the Minnesota Wild. [The Hockey News]

    • Finally, Mason is back with round two of his adventures on ice:

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.