PHT Morning Skate: Byfield’s bowties, Islanders should free Ho-Sang

PHT Morning Skate: Byfield's bowties, Islanders should free Ho-Sang
Getty Images

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 phtblog@nbcsports.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 ButcherP.K. Subban and Ryan MurrayDamon 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 phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Scroll Down For:

    Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

    The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

    Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

    “We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

    Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

    “I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

    Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

    The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

    Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

    The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

    Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

    blackhawks
    Harry How/Getty Images
    13 Comments

    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

    Getty Images
    3 Comments

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.