Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit for the PHT Morning Skate? Email us at email@example.com.
• The Hurricanes signed Haydn Fleury to a two-year, $2.6 million contract. For years, Fleury was a go-to later defenseman choice when you’d fantasy draft in the EA NHL video game’s “franchise” mode. Um, a friend told me. [Hurricanes]
• Canadiens owner Geoff Molson covered a wide range of topics with Eric Engels, including his outlook on the NHL’s chances of pulling off the 2020-21 season amid COVID. Naturally, some of the most interesting comments came about his team. For one thing, he expects the Habs to be “a team that should make the playoffs.” More evidence that the pressure is on, including for coach Claude Julien. [Sportsnet]
• Look, PHT argued this before (multiple times?), but the issue isn’t going away. If the Islanders don’t want to really give Josh Ho-Sang a chance, then they should trade him to an NHL team that will. It’s getting a little cruel. [NYI Hockey Now]
• Try not to smile when you read about Quinton Byfield’s love of bowties. Just try. Also, the main photo and his thrill with being drafted No. 2 overall should provide some sunshine to your day, too. [NHL.com]
• If you need a more nostalgic source of smiles, especially if you’re a Red Wings fan, how about recalling “The Russian Five” of Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Slava Kozlov, Igor Larionov and Slava Fetisov? Stan Bowman recalls that “special group.” [MLive.com]
• Pat Steinberg wonders if a big change at forward, namely trading one of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, would help the Flames. But Steinberg also realizes that might not be “in the cards,” so what about gearing a first line around Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk? An interesting deep dive, wherever you stand on blowing up the Flames or merely making minor tweaks. [Flames Nation]
• After making some offseason tweaks, which defensive pairings should the Devils roll with next season? An argument for pairings including Will Butcher – P.K. Subban and Ryan Murray – Damon Severson. Hmm, interesting. [All About the Jersey]
• In Kevin Palpetti’s opinion, the Maple Leafs performed well at the 2020 NHL Draft. [Maple Leafs Hot Stove]
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.