Every Monday, the PHT Face-Off breaks down some of the big stories and trends in and around the NHL over the next week.
• Torey Krug still needs a new deal
Krug is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and he’s put together an impressive contract year. He’s coming off a two-goal, four-point performance against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. He’s now up to 37 points in 45 games.
What is he going to cost the Bruins going forward? Why haven’t the two sides agreed to a contract extension yet? Those are legitimate questions, but the reality is that there’s clearly a disconnect when it comes to the player’s value.
Krug is an undersized, puck-moving defenseman. If he hits the market, there will be no shortage of teams interested in his services. He’s put together three straight 50-point seasons and he’s currently on pace to surpass the 60-point mark for the first time in his career.
David Krejci is currently the highest paid player on the Bruins roster at $7.25 million per year. He has just one year remaining on his deal, so you’d have to think that his next number will come down significantly (if he’s back at all). Once Krejci’s gone, Patrice Bergeron would become the highest paid player on the roster at $6.875 million per year.
Are the Bruins trying to make sure that Bergeron remains the highest paid player on the team? That’s very possible. Can Krug command more than $7 million on the open market? Absolutely.
That’s probably where the disconnect comes from.
• Alex DeBrincat‘s down year
DeBrincat shocked the NHL last year when he scored 41 goals in 82 games. Putting together back-to-back 40-goal seasons was never going to be easy, but his 12 goals in 52 games are way below expectations.
The 22-year-old’s shooting percentage has taken a dive and his five-on-five production has, too.
Of the 12 goals he’s scored this year, only four have come at even strength. Last year, 13 of his 41 goals were scored on the man-advantage. As you’d imagine, his shooting percentage has gone from 18 percent last year to eight percent this year.
The ‘Hawks could use an increase in production from the sniper. They’re right in the middle of a playoff race and a few more goals to make a huge difference. As of right now, the ‘Hawks are three points back of the Arizona Coyotes for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Oh, and, Chicago has two games in hand.
It’s fair to wonder whether or not DeBrincat will ever score 40 goals again, but it’s clear that he’s better than his current five-on-five production would indicate.
• Pierre-Luc Dubois is the man
The Blue Jackets lost Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, so we knew that they were going to transition to some new on-ice leaders this year. Cam Atkinson‘s production has dipped, Nick Foligno, Alexander Wennberg and Boone Jenner haven’t produced a ton of offense either.
So, there’s been a greater importance placed on Dubois’ offense.
The 21-year-old produced 27 goals and 61 points last year and he’s currently on pace to come close to matching those numbers this year (he’s on pace for 26 goals and 65 points). But the impressive thing about those similar numbers is that he’s been able to do it without Panarin eating up the toughest matchups.
There’s many reasons why the Jackets have found a way to get themselves into the playoff picture, and Dubois is definitely one of them.
On Sunday, he scored a pair of goals in his home province, as Columbus took down Montreal in a pre-Super Bowl matinee game.
Nice lil' tuck for Pierre-Luc Dubois. 🚨 pic.twitter.com/T5MkYBpJ7N
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 2, 2020
For the Jackets to finish strong, they’ll need their top point scorer to keep delivering big moments like the one above. He’s quickly turning into one of the elite young forwards in the NHL.
• Alex Ovechkin isn’t aging poorly
Ovechkin continues to climb the all-time goal list. He’s now eighth all-time in goals, as he passed Mark Messier last week. He needs 13 more goals to tie Mike Gartner for seventh all-time and 22 goals to tie Phil Esposito for sixth. It’s a great story. The big question is whether or not Ovechkin will pass Wayne Gretzky’s 894 career goals. Even if he doesn’t get to 895, he might still be considered the best scorer of all time.
The 34-year-old didn’t score in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he lit it up during his previous five contests.
Between Jan. 13-31, the Russian sniper found the back of the net an incredible 11 times. He’s now scored 37 goals in 52 games, which puts him on pace for 58 goals.
Alex Ovechkin of the @Capitals is the second player in NHL history 34 or older to score 11 goals in a span of five appearances, joining Joe Mullen (Dec. 17-26, 1991 w/ PIT). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/vvqyJYZyIw
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 1, 2020
“He’s a great shooter,” said Gartner, per NHL.com. “He’s got an extremely hard shot, an extremely accurate shot and an extremely quick shot. A lot of times a shooter may have one, maybe two of those things going for you. He has all three of them, and that’s a very unique package of skills that he brings to the table.
“Wayne Gretzky, just by the sheer numbers, is the greatest goal-scorer ever. He scored 894 goals, so you still have to say that he is the greatest goal-scorer. But if anybody could do it, Alex could do it.”
What’s coming up this week:
• MacKinnon vs. Eichel, Tue. Feb. 4, 7 p.m. ET
• Parise’s 1,000th game, Fri. Feb. 7, 8:30 p.m. ET
• Justin Faulk vs. Carolina, Tue. Feb. 4, 8 p.m. ET
NHL on NBCSN
• Flyers vs. Red Wings, Mon. Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m. ET
• Blackhawks vs. Wild, Tue. Feb. 4, 8 p.m. ET
• Red Wings vs. Sabres, Thu. Feb. 6, 7 p.m. ET
• Sharks vs. Oilers, Thu. Feb. 6, 9:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday Night Hockey
• Bruins vs. Blackhawks, Wed. Feb. 5, 8 p.m. ET
NHL on NBC
• Bruins vs. Red Wings, Sun. Feb. 9, 12:30 p.m. ET