Flames must resist temptation to trade Gaudreau or Monahan

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It is always fascinating to see how NHL general managers of (hopeful) Stanley Cup contenders will react to an early postseason exit. Will they step back and take a rational approach to the offseason? Or will they grow impatient with the lack of success, flip over a table, and do something highly regrettable that makes their roster worse?

This offseason is going to be even more fascinating because the 23 general managers that lose in the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles will have to decide how much weight that want to put on an unprecedented playoff environment after a four-month layoff and what it says about their teams, while also balancing a flat salary cap that is going to reduce their wiggle room in building a roster. It could be chaos.

That brings us to one of the biggest wild cards this offseason, the Calgary Flames.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

The Flames’ season wasn’t even fully buried in the ground when trade speculation started to surface regarding the top-line duo of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. One of these players always seems to have their name floated out there, and it represents the maddening discourse this sport sometimes produces.

When an NHL team loses it is almost always greeted with a talking point that is centered around let’s trade the best players because … well … we just gotta shake things up, ya know? Can we win with this core? This is the only sport where this consistently happens. When the Anaheim Angels miss the playoffs no one argues they have to trade Mike Trout. Because that would be dumb. When the Baltimore Ravens lost in the first round two years in a row nobody with a functioning brain argued that maybe it’s time to float Lamar Jackson out there in trade talks and see what they can get. Because that would be insane. So why do we do it here?

None of that is to say Gaudreau and Monahan are the hockey equivalent of Trout or Jackson, but it doesn’t even necessarily have to apply to the Flames. It could be any random NHL team that loses early a couple of years in a row and the immediate suggestion is to think about breaking up that team’s core.

[Full NHL Second Round schedule]

It is not a given the Flames will move one of them, but there is going to be increased outside pressure for it to happen after a second straight First Round loss.

The Flames have to resist that pressure.

Even if you want to argue that Monahan had a disappointing postseason, or that both players took a step back offensively during the regular season, that is all the more reason to want to keep them right now. Why would you sell them off what might be their lowest possible value? Trading a core player when their value is down is how you become the other team in Alberta.

We are not talking about aging players here that don’t produce. Gaudreau and Monahan are among the most productive forwards in the league, still in their mid-20s, and signed long-term through their primes at fair salary cap hits.

Since the start of the 2014-15 season both players are among the top-50 point-per-game forwards in the league (minimum 100 games played).

Players that produce like that don’t typically get traded unless there is a contractual issue, or their team overreacts and does something dumb. If you look at that list of top-50 scorers you will find that only eight of them have been traded at any point in their careers. Those players: Artemi Panarin, Blake Wheeler, Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall, Mark Stone, Jakub Voracek, Phil Kessel, and Ryan O'Reilly.

You are unlikely to win a trade like this

Look at those names. Think of the trades involving them. Ask yourself how many of the teams that sent them away were better off because of it. Wheeler and Voracek were traded before they became stars, so they do not really compare to the others.

Stone (pending free agent) and Kessel were traded as part of massive rebuilding projects, something that should not apply to the Flames.

The others? Chicago has been far worse off after dealing Panarin in what turned out to be a nightmarish return. The Hall-for-Larsson swap remains a punchline while the Oilers still scramble for scoring depth. The Bruins traded a young Seguin after a bad postseason, and while they eventually rebounded a few years later, the fact remains they traded a franchise player for what quickly amounted to nothing. O’Reilly was traded twice, both times for packages that were worth less than he is on his own, with the latter of those trades (Buffalo to St. Louis) being the biggest black mark on the Jason Botterill era in Buffalo.

The Flames have their issues to work out (goaltending?), but trading one of your top-three players in an effort to fix those issues is not going to help.

You are not only unlikely to get fair value back in return, but you will also create another (and far bigger) issue in the process by no longer having that top-line scorer. Those are the hardest pieces to find.

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule

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.

Hughes has first NHL hat trick, Devils beat Capitals 5-1

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NEWARK, N.J. – Jack Hughes had his first career NHL hat trick, Vitek Vanecek made 38 saves against his former team and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Saturday for coach Lindy Ruff’s 800th victory.

“It’s exciting,” Hughes said. “Couple of two-goal games in my career, so nice to cap it off with the third one tonight.”

Ruff became the fifth NHL coach to reach the 800-victory mark. The former Buffalo player won 571 games with the Sabres from 1997-2011. He had 165 wins in five seasons with Dallas and has 64 in two-plus seasons with New Jersey.

“It means I’ve been around a long time,” Ruff cracked. “Great to win the game. Again, you got to do a lot of right things, have good teams, and the way our team is playing I have to give them a lot of credit for getting me there.”

The Atlantic Division-leading Devils have won two in a row after seeing their franchise-record 13-game winning streak snapped by Toronto.

Devils captain Nico Hischier and Fabian Zetterlund also scored.

John Carlson scored for Washington and Charlie Lindgren made 24 saves.

“Not scoring goals, not capitalizing on our chances,” Carlson said. “We’ve had our chances, especially today, but we only walked away with one goal. We could have had five or six. It’s just not going in right now.”

Vanecek, meanwhile, was hoping for the shutout against a familiar foe.

“That would have been nice, but that’s hockey,” Vanecek said, “For sure you’re trying, but not every time; the win is more important.”

Hischier opened up the scoring with his 10th goal of the season midway through the first period on a power play after Alexander Ovechkin was called for slashing.

Hughes wrapped the puck around goalie Lindgren’s right leg and the goal post to put the Devils up 2-0 5:59 into the second period. Hughes appeared to have lost his angle on the goal when he ripped a shot off Lindgren’s face mask and into the net midway through the period for his 10th goal of the season to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.

The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick added his third midway through the third period as hats rained down on the ice with New Jersey up 4-0.

“You want to continue to play the right way, but if an opportunity comes you want to definitely put it in the back of the net with authority,” Hughes said. “So tonight, I was able to cap it off and it was nice.”

Fabian Zetterlund capped the scoring for New Jersey late in the third period.

NOTES: The Devils improved to 16-0-0 this season when Hischier has a point. New Jersey’s Nathan Bastain (upper body) did not return after the first period. . Ovechkin is still nine goals away from 800 and 11 from passing Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL goals list.

UP NEXT

Capitals: At Vancouver on Tuesday night.

Devils: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.