PHT Morning Skate: Scariest NWHL Mascots; Bergeron’s excellent Elmo

PHT Morning Skate: Scariest NWHL Mascots; Bergeron's excellent Elmo
via Boston Bruins

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

• NHL executive Bill Daly spoke with Emily Kaplan about the league’s hopes for a “normal” 2021-22 season. As far as the 2020-21 NHL season goes, a lot remains up in the air. Daly notes to Kaplan that the Summer Olympics aren’t guaranteed to represent a natural stopping point for 2020-21. Again, a lot is subject to change. [ESPN]

• One thing not ruled out in a possible 2020-21 NHL season: an all-Canadian division. Such an idea naturally brings about some challenges. In particular, how do you divvy up the rest of the NHL’s 24 teams? Travis Yost took a crack at solving that puzzle. [TSN]

• Second overall pick Quinton Byfield ranked among the 46 players invited to World Juniors training camp for Hockey Canada. Top pick Alexis Lafreniere, meanwhile, was not listed. [Hockey Canada]

• Apologies to neon alternate jerseys, but the Stars’ most important piece of recent business may boil down to signing Miro Heiskanen to an extension. That said, there are a lot of reasons why that might not happen for a while. But what would such a contract look like if Heiskanen did? Interesting to note that deals for Rasmus Dahlin, Quinn Hughes, and Cale Makar also loom. Would Dallas be better off signing Heiskanen first, or waiting? [Dallas Morning News]

• Free agent forward Colin Wilson opens up about his experiences as an NHL player who suffers from OCD. [The Players’ Tribune]

• It kind of feels like the Capitals may no longer be favorites to win the Metropolitan Division. Here’s an argument that Washington might maintain its grip. (You know, assuming there’s a Metro.) [NBC Washington]

• Considering how random NHL success is compared to, say, the NBA, it’s interesting to see if there’s a correlation between Stanley Cup winners and higher payrolls. Will the Vegas Golden Knights get what they pay for in 2020-21? [Sin Bin Vegas]

• The Seattle Kraken are hiring analytics staffers from tech hubs, people without experience in the hockey industry. An interesting look at two of those stories. []

• At least in year one, Kevin Hayes showed why the Flyers gave him that Hayes-sized seven-year, $50 million contract. [Section 215]

• In time for Halloween, a ranking of the scariest mascots in the NWHL. [The Ice Garden]

• Enjoy the (not-so?) bogus journey that is Ryan [McLeod] and Akil [Thomas]’s Excellent Adventure. [The Hockey News/SI]

Finally, enjoy the Bruins sharing their takes on “Sesame Street” characters. Even realizing that Patrice Bergeron is good at almost everything, it’s still surprising how strong his Elmo is:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    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

    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

    Harry How/Getty Images

    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

    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.