The perfect holiday gift for every NHL team

NHL Gift Ideas
Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
2 Comments

We have seen more than a quarter of the NHL season and have started to get a sense for every team’s strengths and weaknesses heading into the holiday break. So what better time to put together a last minute shopping list to give every team in the league the one thing it needs the most for the remainder of the season and the new year ahead.

What does your team need more than anything else?

Let’s explore it!

Anaheim Ducks. Some shooting luck for Jakob Silfverberg. One goal on 59 shots this season defies logic for such a skilled player.

Arizona Coyotes. A draft lottery win. This season was always going to be miserable given the roster moves made in the summer, and the only thing that can salvage it from a fans perspective is winning the top pick in the draft (something the Coyotes have never had since moving to Arizona). They need a franchise-changing player. That is their best chance to get it.

Boston Bruins. A second-line center. Scoring depth is again a big problem for the Bruins this season and losing David Krejci has been significant.

Buffalo Sabres. A healthy and productive Alex Tuch. The Sabres need everything if we are being honest, but Tuch making his debut and helping to salvage the Jack Eichel chapter would be a positive development.

Calgary Flames. A new contract for Johnny Gaudreau. He is still a star player with productive years ahead of him and you do not want to lose that for nothing.

Carolina Hurricanes. Keeping Frederik Andersen healthy. That was always going to be a big question for him this season, and given how well he has played, they need him to stay in the lineup.

Chicago Blackhawks. A breakout season for Kirby Dach. Anything having to do with the team’s offense would be a great gift, but if they are going to build anything in the future Dach is going to have to be one of the players to help get them there.

Colorado Avalanche. Better goaltending. They are still one of the best teams in the league (and hottest teams in the league) despite the fact their goalies have provided a sub-.900 save percentage this season. Darcy Kuemper has been okay, but he can be better.

Columbus Blue Jackets. The return of Patrik Laine. It has been a tough year for Laine on the ice (injuries) and off the ice. He is still the highest ceiling player the Blue Jackets have, and when he has played this season has looked really good. He can be a game-changer. This team needs a game-changer.

Dallas Stars. More offense. The return of a healthy Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov was supposed to be significant this season. It has not quite worked out that way for a Stars team that is 20th in the league in goals per game and near the bottom during 5-on-5 play.

Detroit Red Wings. A Calder Trophy for one of their standout rookies. If this team gets into the playoffs (not out of the question) Lucas Raymond or Moritz Seider should be the runaway rookie of the year favorites.

Edmonton Oilers. An entirely new bottom-six. The numbers are what they are. When Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are not on the ice during 5-on-5 play the Oilers have been outscored 16-34 this season. They have the worst supporting cast in the NHL.

[Related: Which teams have built around their stars the best (and worst)]

Florida Panthers. Improved special teams. If they have a weakness it is on the power play (20th) and penalty kill (17th). Not a dealbreaker for a contender, but something that could be improved.

Los Angeles Kings. Their farm system to pan out. They are hanging in the playoff race with the current roster, but the real hope is with players like Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, and Arthur Kaliyev. Their impact has not yet been felt.

Minnesota Wild. Good news on Joel Eriksson Ek. The Wild are an outstanding team that does not need much. But what they do need is for Eriksson Ek’s injury to not be too severe or keep him out for too long. He is a major part of their roster.

Montreal Canadiens. A general manager with a plan. Let’s just go with the obvious here. There is nothing on the ice in the short-term that is going to salvage this lost season, so let’s just give their fans something to look forward to in the future.

Nashville Predators. A new contract for Filip Forsberg. Similar to the Flames with Gaudreau. Not a player you want to lose for nothing, and not a player you want to trade when you have a chance to make the playoffs. Still an impact player.

New Jersey Devils. Better power play. They have a lot of problems and flaws, but a better power play could at least help fix some things.

New York Islanders. Offense. A lot of it. This has always been the Islanders’ weakness, but it has reached an entirely new level this year. There are a lot of factors at play here (the COVID situation that paused their season; injuries; just a general lack of depth) but they need more impact players than just Mathew Barzal.

New York Rangers. Breakouts from Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko. The Rangers’ rebuild got a huge boost with two straight years of draft lottery luck, but so far they have not become impact players. The fact the Rangers are as good as they are right now should be encouraging. Imagine what they could be capable of if those two become stars.

Ottawa Senators. A resurgence from Matt Murray. He started his career with two Stanley Cup championships as a rookie, regressed a little, but still got a big contract from the Senators. So far, it has not worked out. They need it to work out.

Philadelphia Flyers. A healthy Ryan Ellis. The Flyers defense needed a ton of work this offseason and they made some major changes to address it. Ellis was supposed to be the key to that. He has been limited to just four games.

Pittsburgh Penguins. Better power play. That has been the one major weakness for this team this season. Maybe the return of Evgeni Malkin helps fix that.

San Jose Sharks. A strong return for Tomas Hertl. Not sure the Sharks are going to hang around in the playoff race enough to get him to re-sign, and the Sharks are not going to let him walk for nothing. Cash in on his big season and get a haul.

Seattle Kraken. Better goaltending. Or perhaps an expansion draft re-do? They left some talent on the board for sure, but goaltending has been the single biggest issue this season.

St. Louis Blues. Vladimir Tarasenko wanting to stick around. Not trading him this offseason and Seattle not taking him in the expansion draft has been a season-changer for the Blues.

Tampa Bay Lightning. A backup goalie. What do you get for the team that has everything? That can still be one of the best teams in the league without its two best players for most of the season? Maybe a backup goalie upgrade to give Andrei Vasilevskiy a little bit of a break. Even that is not a huge need.

[Related: Lightning looking like team capable of three-peat]

Toronto Maple Leafs. Playoff success. Yeah, that is low-hanging fruit. But low-hanging fruit is still juicy and that is the only thing Toronto fans want.

Vancouver Canucks. Christmas came early with the arrival of Bruce Boudreau (but if you want to be greedy, fix the league worst penalty killing unit).

Vegas Golden Knights. A healthy Jack Eichel. Whenever he makes his debut, him being healthy and ready to make an impact would give them the dynamic, top-line center they have been lacking in their Stanley Cup quest.

Washington Capitals. A full roster. Seems simple enough. They have been without so many key players this season for extended periods of time. Let’s see what they can do when they are all there.

Winnipeg Jets. Better penalty killing unit. The Jets are at 70.6% for the season, ahead of only Vancouver and Winnipeg. Not an area you want to struggle in come playoff time.

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

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

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
0 Comments

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
0 Comments

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.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.