NHL Rink Wrap: McDavid passes 600 points; Ducks’ streak continues

NHL Rink Wrap: McDavid passes 600 points; Ducks' streak continues
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Top players from Sunday in the NHL

Trevor Zegras, Ducks

On Sunday, the Ducks stayed stunningly hot, pushing their NHL-leading active winning streak to seven games. With good reason, Troy Terry is grabbing the most headlines — aside from maybe John Gibson. In the Ducks’ latest win, Terry grabbed an assist to push his point streak to a wildly unexpected 14 games.

When it comes to the Ducks’ larger future, Trevor Zegras stands as one of the reasons to be most excited. Granted, Zegras has been quiet lately, but not on Sunday (when he scored two goals and one assist).

Interestingly, while Zegras’ scoring has been sporadic, he’s been especially dangerous when he can get on the scoring sheet. In 10 of his 14 games, Zegras went pointless. However, in the four games he’s scored this season, three of them have been multi-point games.

If Zegras can be explosive with more regularity, then watch out.

Highlights from the NHL on Sunday, including McDavid reaching 600 points

Another day, another Connor McDavid milestone. In this case, McDavid reached 600 points in just his 421st game. Fittingly, McDavid added an assist to his goal to finish with 601.

By getting there in 421 games, McDavid became the sixth-fastest player to reach 600+ points. The only players to reach 600 points faster than McDavid were: Wayne Gretzky (274), Mario Lemieux (323), Peter Stastny (394), Mike Bossy (400), and Jari Kurri (419). Pretty wild how close McDavid’s come to the pace of some of the scorers from the NHL’s highest-scoring era.

So far, Kaapo Kakko has experienced serious ups and downs in the NHL. Hopefully we get more moments like these — although you can only pull off moves like the ones he deployed so often. (Unless you’re Connor McDavid, perhaps?)

An example of the Capitals making Sidney Crosby‘s first night back in the Penguins lineup in a while also a long night:

At this rate, Andrew Mangiapane may not cool down until he gets a big raise.

The NHL collected every goal from Sunday’s six games. Convenient! Some zany ones between the Bruins and Canadiens.

 

Sunday’s NHL takeaways

Daring Ducks win seventh in a row

No, a seven-game winning streak doesn’t negate the larger suggestion that the Ducks should still rebuild. Don’t forget that the Jack Eichel-era Sabres sat at the top of the standings early in seasons, only to tumble. You tend to remember a seven-game winning streak stretching into November more than one you’d recall in, say, February. For everyone speeding to bet on the Ducks, there are those tapping the brakes.

Certain hot streaks will dwindle. Troy Terry can’t shoot at 30.5 percent forever. And wins are wins, but the Ducks haven’t waddled past the elite much lately.

Those caveats mainly serve as red flags for anyone bragging too much. In other words, don’t bet the farm on the Ducks making a deep playoff run just yet.

That said, the Ducks already banked the points from this 9-4-3 start. In a Pacific that’s pluckier than usual but still vulnerable, the Ducks have a real shot at making the playoffs. At worst, a seven-game winning streak gives young Ducks players a taste of winning. There’s rebuilding, and then there’s the risk of tanking so hard, it scars holdovers who took those bullets.

Over the next three weeks, we should learn more about the Ducks.

Tue, Nov. 16 vs. Washington
Thu, Nov. 18 vs. Carolina
Mon, Nov. 22 @ Nashville
Wed, Nov. 24 @ Colorado
Fri, Nov. 26 vs. Ottawa
Sun, Nov. 28 vs. Toronto
Tue, Nov. 30 @ Los Angeles
Wed, Dec. 1 vs. Vegas
Fri, Dec. 3 vs. Calgary
Mon, Dec. 6 @ Washington

Tough sledding. Especially if the Predators, Kings, and Flames remain feisty.

Again, it’s not a big deal if the Ducks’ short-term outlook seems darker by early December. Every good stretch could at least drive up the price of players who might serve as “rentals” for other teams.

Life after Bob Murray might not be so bad.

Capitals present Crosby with a rude return

To put things mildly, this has been a bumpy start to Sidney Crosby’s season, and that of the Pittsburgh Penguins. In recovering from offseason surgery, Crosby didn’t debut until Oct. 30. Then Sidney Crosby missed five more games in COVID protocol.

The good news is that Sidney Crosby made another return to action, playing in his second game of the NHL season on Sunday. The bad news is that the Capitals made it a pretty rude return.

Ultimately, it would be a strong return for longtime Capitals (Alex Ovechkin: two assists, Evgeny Kuznetsov: 1G, 1A). Interestingly, former Penguins also did some damage (Daniel Sprong and Conor Sheary both had 1G, 1A).

At least it wasn’t so bad for Crosby as an individual. Crosby wasn’t getting massively out-shot. At even-strength, the Penguins scored one goal (by Jake Guentzel) and allowed one while Crosby was on the ice. Beyond the score, the only worry was that the Capitals controlled high-danger chances (5-2) with Crosby out at even-strength.

Actually, scratch that. Crosby possibly facing supplemental discipline adds another worthy:

Fortunate timing for Ken Holland’s Hall of Fame induction?

Honestly, it was a surprise when Ken Holland was named to the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class. The surprise wasn’t that Holland would eventually get named to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a key builder for the Detroit Red Wings. Instead, it was surprising because of timing.

To be specific, Ken Holland was off to a bit of a bumpy start as Oilers GM. The Zack Kassian contract extension looked like a classic overpay of a perfectly fine player being elevated by superhuman Connor McDavid. (Truthfully, it still does.) Giving up serious draft assets for Andreas Athanasiou stunk of the wrong kind of Remembering a Guy.

At the time of Holland’s HHOF nomination, it sure felt like his moves weren’t exactly helping McDavid add team-related bullet points to his Hockey Hall of Fame resume.

And, to be clear, there are some red flags to the Oilers’ hot start. At times, McDavid and Leon Draisaitl can basically win games on their own, but it’s unlikely that Edmonton’s goaltending will remain this good. Saying this team is peaking doesn’t mean they’re bound to be bad; they just might be misleading us ever so slightly.

They’re definitely hot right now, though. COVID delayed the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame inductions, and that’s mostly a bummer. But at least Ken Holland goes in with a hot Oilers team in the present to accompany all of those impressive Red Wings memories.

Monday’s big story

2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class inducted on Monday

As mentioned in that Ken Holland – Oilers takeaway, the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class gets inducted on Monday. Along with Holland, the 2020 HHOF inductees are: Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe, Doug Wilson, and Kim St-Pierre.

Iginla and Hossa both ended up first-ballot Hall of Famers, so expect people to share plenty of memories of their outstanding careers.

For a league reeling from ugly news during the past month, it will likely be refreshing for many to reflect upon hockey triumphs.

Of course, this class isn’t totally isolated from the Blackhawks scandal. Marian Hossa was part of the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team. On Nov. 1, the Blackhawks decided to postpone “Marian Hossa Legacy Night” from its planned Nov. 9 date. The Blackhawks cited a need to “reflect rather than celebrate.”

Stay tuned at PHT for plenty on the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class, and maybe some thoughts on possible 2022 inductees.

Sunday’s NHL scores

Flames 4, Senators 0
Oilers 5, Blues 4
Bruins 5, Canadiens 2
Rangers 4, Devils 3 (SO)
Capitals 6, Penguins 1
Ducks 5, Canucks 1

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.

Stars expect to open camp without unsigned scorer Jason Robertson

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
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FRISCO, Texas — Young 40-goal scorer Jason Robertson is expected to miss the start of training camp for the Dallas Stars because the team and the restricted free agent haven’t agreed on a new contract.

General manager Jim Nill said there’s been steady, ongoing negotiations over the last couple of weeks with Robertson and his representatives. Nill wouldn’t say what has kept the two sides from reaching a deal, adding there have been “very good discussions.”

The Stars, with new coach Pete DeBoer, open camp Thursday in Cedar Park, Texas, at the home of their AHL team. They have three days of work there before returning to North Texas for their exhibition opener at home on Monday night. They open the regular season Oct. 13 at Nashville.

“I think he’s disappointed he’s not at camp, we are too,” Nill said before the team departed for the Austin area. “I think it’s very important for a younger player and as you mentioned, the (new) coaching staff. … We do have some time on our side, but we wish he gets here as soon as he can.”

Robertson had a base salary of $750,000 last season, the end of a $2.775 million, three-year contract. He still has five more years before he has the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent.

The left wing turned 23 soon after the end of last season, when he had 41 goals and 38 assists for 79 points in his 74 games. Robertson joined Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin as the only 40-goal scorers since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993.

A second-round draft pick by the Stars in 2017, Robertson has 125 points (58 goals, 67 assists) in his 128 NHL games. He had one goal and three assists in his first postseason action last season, when Dallas lost its first-round playoff series in seven games against Calgary.

DeBoer said he looks forward to coaching Robertson, but that the forward’s absence won’t change his plans for camp.

“It doesn’t impact what I’m doing,” DeBoer said. “Listen, I laid awake at night with the excitement of coaching Jason Robertson, 40-plus goals, but he’s not here. So, you know, until he gets here, I can’t spend any energy on that.”

Nill said the Stars are open to a long-term extension or a bridge contract for Robertson, who was part of the team’s top line last season with veteran Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz. They combined for 232 points, the second-most in franchise history for a trio.

“We’re open to anything. But other than that … I’m not going to negotiate through the media,” Nill said. “As I said, we’ve had good conversations. We’ll see where it goes.”

Training camps open around NHL after another short offseason

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Training camps open around the NHL after another short offseason, a third in a row squeezed by the pandemic. That doesn’t bother Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon one bit.

For one of hockey’s best players and his teammates, it’s already time to get back on the ice and defend their Stanley Cup title, less than three months since they knocked off the back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I still feel like I just was playing,” MacKinnon said. “I took two weeks off, and then I started skating again. It’s just fun. I enjoy it, and I like the short summer. It feels like the season’s just kind of rolling over again.”

The NHL rolls into fall coming off an entertaining playoffs and final with the chance to finally get back on a normal schedule. That means full camps for teams that got new coaches and the benefits of a regular routine.

That means a mere 88 days between Game 6 of the final and the first-on ice practice sessions.

“We’re kind of used to it now,” Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy said after he and the Lightning lost in the final for the first time in three consecutive trips. “It’s a little harder, of course, because you don’t have that much time to rest. It’s basically a few weeks and you have to get back at it. But, yeah, I can’t complain. You want your summers to be short every year.”

It was a little longer for Connor McDavid and the Oilers after losing to Colorado in the West final. Despite the lack of downtime, McDavid “wouldn’t trade that in for anything” and aims to make it even further since Edmonton shored up its goaltending situation by adding Jack Campbell.

A few spins of the goalie carousel ended with the Avalanche acquiring Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers and Cup winner Darcy Kuemper landing with Washington. Joining new teammates, many of whom hoisted the Cup in 2018, Kuemper is not worried about less time off.

“It was definitely a very unique summer,” Kuemper said. “With how short it was, you start getting back into the gym and you’re kind of a little bit worried that your training’s going to be so short. But you kind of felt like you weren’t getting back into shape. You were already there.”

NEW COACHES

The Oilers are one of several teams settling in for training camp under a new coach. Jay Woodcroft took over as interim coach in February but has the full-time job now.

“Looking forward to a camp with him,” McDavid said. “He did a great job coming in during the middle of the season, but it’s never easy on a coach, for sure. I’m sure there’s things that he wanted to touch on that you wasn’t able to kind of in the middle of the year, so he’ll be able to to touch on all of it this year.”

The same goes for Bruce Boudreau in Vancouver, 11 months since being put in charge of the Canucks. Philadelphia’s John Tortorella, Boston’s Jim Montgomery, Vegas’ Bruce Cassidy, Dallas’ Peter DeBoer, Florida’s Paul Maurice, Chicago’s Luke Richardson, Detroit’s Derek Lalonde and the New York Islanders’ Lane Lambert are all starting the job fresh.

CAMP TRYOUTS

Roughly 40 players are attending a camp on a professional tryout agreement with the chance to earn a contract for the season. James Neal has that opportunity with the Blue Jackets, and Derek Stepan returned to Carolina to seek a job with the Hurricanes.

The most intriguing situation involves 37-year-old center Eric Staal, who agreed to the tryout with Florida the same time brother Marc signed a one-year contract. Younger brother Jordan was with Eric and Marc on the 18th green at Pebble Beach to witness the occasion.

“They’re both just super pumped, as was I,” said Jordan Staal, who is the captain of the Hurricanes. “Eric is excited about the opportunity and Marc, as well. Really cool. Really cool thing.”

EARLY START

Before the puck drops on the NHL season in North America on Oct. 11, the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks play twice in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8. And those are not exhibitions.

“We still play two important games,” said Sharks forward Tomas Hertl, who is a native of Prague. “It’s not just preseason where you coming here to warm up.”

Colorado and Columbus will also play two games in Tampere, Finland, on Nov. 4-5 as part of the NHL’s Global Series.

And just as the league gets used to a regular schedule, work is ongoing between the league and NHL Players’ Association to stage a World Cup of Hockey in February 2024, which is popular among players even if it knocks the calendar off kilter again.

“I think they missed out on a huge, huge portion of the international game that’s really going to be missed,” McDavid said. “We need to figure out a way to get an international tournament in as quickly as possible.”

Matthew Tkachuk, Panthers ready for 1st training camp together

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
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CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — Aleksander Barkov was sound asleep at his home in Finland when the trade that brought Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers was finalized, which isn’t surprising considering it was around 4 a.m. in that part of the world.

He woke up and read texts from friends reacting to the deal.

And it wasn’t too long before he got a message from Tkachuk.

“The first message was `(expletive) right’ and how he was excited to come to Florida,” Barkov, the Panthers’ captain, said at Florida’s media day. “`Let’s take this next step, let’s be a winning team for many years to come.’ That’s who he is. He wants to win. He wants to bring that character to this organization. And I think he’s done some damage already.”

With that, Barkov was sold.

And after a few weeks of informally skating with one another, the Panthers start the process of officially seeing what they have in Tkachuk when the team’s training camp – the first under new coach Paul Maurice – opens.

“We’ve basically had everybody here for a few weeks,” Tkachuk said. “I feel like I’ve been in training camp for a couple of weeks. So today doesn’t feel that new to me. I’ve gotten to know everybody … so let’s get these games going. I’m sick and tired of just practicing and working. I want to start playing some games. I think everybody feels the same way.”

Maurice was hired over the summer as well, inheriting a team that won the Presidents’ Trophy last season and went to the second round of the playoffs — the first series win for Florida since the run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996.

He’s as eager as the players are for the first formal practice, calling it “our first Christmas.”

“The house is bought. Most of the boxes are unpacked,” Maurice said. “I’ve got two kids that kind of came with me; one’s in Coral Gables, one’s in Estero. Their places are unpacked. They’re out of our house. Once you get down here, for me, you spend most of your days at the rink. So, experiencing all of South Florida, we haven’t gotten to that yet.”

As part of the deal that went down on July 22, the 24-year-old Tkachuk signed a eight-year, $76 million contract. That’s not the only big cost that the Panthers had to agree to while executing the trade; they also sent Jonathan Huberdeau, the franchise’s all-time scoring leader, and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a left wing who had career bests of 42 goals, 62 assists and 104 points last season.

“I wish all the best to Huby and Weegs,” Barkov said. “They’re great. Everyone loved them. Only good things to say about them. It happens, and for sure, it was best for the team and organization to do this. We move on, and we’ll get ready for a new season.”

BOBROVSKY’S SUMMER

Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is Russian, still makes his home in St. Petersburg, and went there for the bulk of his offseason.

He said it was not logistically difficult to travel there (or return to the U.S.) this summer, even as the war that started when Russia invaded Ukraine continues. Bobrovsky said last season that he was not trying to focus on anything but hockey, and when asked if it was difficult to be back in Russia as war continues he kept the same approach.

“I had a good summer,” Bobrovsky said. “I saw friends, I saw family. It’s all been fine. I don’t want to talk about what’s going on. I’m not involved in that stuff.”

CAMP ROSTER

Florida is opening camp with 56 players – 31 forwards, 19 defensemen and six goalies. That group includes brothers Eric Staal and Marc Staal; Marc Staal signed as a free agent in July; Eric Staal is with Florida on a tryout contract.

Coyotes sign Barrett Hayton right before training camp

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes signed forward Barrett Hayton to a two-year contract right before the start of training camp.

Terms of the deal were not released.

The 22-year-old Hayton was a restricted free agent and not initially listed on Arizona’s roster for camp.

Hayton had 10 goals and 14 assists in 60 games with the Coyotes last season, all career highs.

Arizona drafted the Peterborough, Ontario native with the fifth overall pick of the 2018 NHL draft. He has 13 goals and 18 assists in 94 career games with the Coyotes.