NHL Rink Wrap: Boldy hat trick; Givani and Gemel Smith team up

NHL Rink Wrap: Boldy hat trick; Givani and Gemel Smith team up
Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

Top players from Monday in the NHL

Matt Boldy, Wild

Reading between the lines, it seemed like the Wild weren’t necessarily eager for Matt Boldy to become an NHL regular. It’s unclear if the Wild perceived some flaws in Boldy (at this point), the Wild wanted to manage their salary cap situation, or what. But a set of circumstances — injuries, COVID — forced the Wild’s hand with Boldy, and the 20-year-old’s basically been brilliant from his first appearance.

Heading into the NHL action on Monday, Boldy already had 10 points in 12 games. Just 13 games into his career, Matt Boldy generated his first hat trick, and added an assist for four points vs. the Red Wings. Boldy’s now up to 14 points in 13 contests.

Here’s footage of that Matt Boldy hat trick:

Is it too late for Boldy to wade into the Calder Trophy race? Logically, you’d think the answer is yes, but Boldy’s off to such a bold start to his Wild career, it’s dangerous to totally dismiss a real push.

Monday NHL highlights

Much like Sunday, there were merely four games in the NHL on Monday. With that in mind, why not soak in the sights and sounds from all of those games?

Boldy collected that hat trick (plus assist) as the Wild outlasted the Red Wings:

Tough to feel great about the Jets’ playoff chances when they lose to the Blackhawks in regulation.

Mitch Marner‘s still red-hot, collecting three points as the Maple Leafs handled the Kraken:

Sharks fans booed Evander Kane during his return to San Jose, but the Oilers won, with Stuart Skinner earning Edmonton’s first shutout of this season.

Monday NHL Takeaways

Flames land Tyler Toffoli in trade with Canadiens

In case you missed it, the Calgary Flames acquired Tyler Toffoli in a trade with the Canadiens that featured a (top-10-protected) first-rounder going back to Montreal.

Along with that first-rounder, the Canadiens acquired Tyler Pitlick, prospect Emil Heineman, and a fifth-round pick. Frankly, it’s tough to imagine the Flames’ first-rounder needing to be top-10-protected, but better safe than sorry.

Calgary gets more than a rental in Toffoli trade; Flames’ salary cap questions loom

As Adam Gretz mentioned for PHT, the Flames gained some nice flexibility by trading for Toffoli. Unlike when the Canucks traded for Toffoli, this isn’t a mere rental. Toffoli carries a team-friendly $4.25M cap hit through 2023-24. Personally, his contract brings to mind the bargain the Flames enjoy with Elias Lindholm. While Lindholm is slightly younger (27) and marginally more expensive ($4.85M), both are strong players whose contracts expire after the 2023-24 campaign.

Following the Toffoli trade, the Flames are tight to the salary cap for the rest of this season.

Truly, the most interesting Flames salary cap questions still revolve around the expiring contracts of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. Most directly, the Toffoli trade eats up some of the available cap space for the Flames to re-sign Gaudreau and/or Tkachuk. Yet, I’d counter that there’s some piece of mind in having two more seasons of Toffoli + Lindholm for a hair over $9M combined.

With savings at that level, maybe you can more easily justify breaking the bank for Gaudreau and/or Tkachuk?

Following that path may also require other moves, like bribing another team (perhaps the Canadiens?) to take on a contract or two.

Overall, the Toffoli trade makes the Flames more versatile on the ice, and (I’d argue) in handling the salary cap.

[Maybe Flames will climb in the PHT Power Rankings next week?]

Flames GM Brad Treliving mentioned that he’s been “chasing” Toffoli since Treliving was with the then-Phoenix Coyotes. Treliving explained a valid additional point to landing Toffoli in a trade: another team can’t get the useful, affordable winger.

Also, the 29-year-old is likely as Darryl Sutter-approved as you’re going to get, both from his time with the Kings, and also Toffoli’s two-way style. Speaking of Toffoli’s time with the Kings, I can’t say I realized that the trade will reunite him with his big buddy, Milan Lucic?

The Canadiens’ side of the Toffoli trade

For Canadiens fans who quickly formed fond memories of Tyler Toffoli, this trade may ring a bit hollow. Again, that Flames first-rounder is unlikely to translate to a particularly strong first-rounder for the Habs. It’s unclear if any other parts of that Toffoli trade will help the Canadiens all that much, either.

Big picture, though, it makes a lot of sense for the Canadiens to grab another first-rounder. Especially with a potentially crucial first-rounder tied up in the wildly ill-advised Christian Dvorak trade.

Remember, landing a first-rounder in a trade doesn’t guarantee you’ll make that pick.

It could also give the Canadiens a useful trade weapon. Maybe that first-rounder could help the Canadiens shimmy out of a bad contract. Perhaps they could use it to acquire a player who could be a part of the rebuild.

Or, maybe they use their revamped staff to draft a prospect who should’ve been drafted earlier. Ideally, the Canadiens can trade players in ways that feel more “win-win” than moving Toffoli.

Perhaps an offseason Toffoli trade might have netted a better return, but who knows? Either way, the Canadiens kind of had to do it. And they also have a lot more work to do.

Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston has more on Emil Heineman, the prospect who was part of the Toffoli trade.

Givani and Gemel Smith play together for the first time — at any level

In a very cool moment, Givani and Gemel Smith played together for the first time (not just at the NHL level, but any level). The Smith brothers suited up for the Red Wings with Sam Gagner and Michael Rasmussen. Givani Smith, 23, logged 9:53 of ice time, while Gemel, 27, received 9:01.

Both Smith brothers fired a shot on goal apiece, and they were both on the ice for a goal allowed.

Before the game, Jeff Blashill noted that he never got the chance to play with his brother, so he was happy for Givani and Gemel Smith to get that opportunity.

Jack Eichel Golden Knights debut planned for Wednesday

With Mark Stone (and his $9.5M cap hit) headed to LTIR, the Golden Knights can make room for Jack Eichel. So, there you have it: Eichel is expected to make his Golden Knights debut on Wednesday.

One of the most interesting debates about Eichel joining the Golden Knights won’t be solved anytime soon. That debate was: do you load up with Eichel, Stone, and Max Pacioretty? Or do you have Eichel run his “own line,” keep Chandler Stephenson on an already-great line with Stone and Pacioretty, and make opponents pick their poison?

With Stone out, that scenario is incomplete. It’s also undeniable that, just because Eichel may make his Golden Knights debut, it doesn’t mean we’re seeing him at his full powers.

For the sake of entertainment, it would be wonderful if Eichel hit the ground running for the Golden Knights, though. Especially since you couldn’t pick a more fun opponent for the Golden Knights in that Eichel debut: the juggernaut Colorado Avalanche.

Tuesday’s big story

Plenty of playoff implications in Kings vs. Oilers

Should the Kings view their most likely path to a playoff spot as landing the Pacific’s third spot (where they currently sit) or a wild-card berth? The outcome of Tuesday’s Oilers – Kings game may nudge Los Angeles more clearly in one direction or another.

After all, the Oilers aren’t that far behind the Kings in points (53 for Edmonton, 55 for L.A.), and they’ve played 46 games vs. the 47 the Kings played. If the Oilers win — especially in regulation — things suddenly look that much more interesting.

This key Oilers game is the meat in the sandwich of two challenging road trips for the Kings. Looking back, the Kings can feel pretty nice about getting a point in all six games of their last road trip (4-0-2), although the quality of competition wasn’t outstanding. Following Tuesday’s game against the Oilers, the Kings set out again, playing four straight away contests.

They also play eight of their next 10 on the road, so this may qualify as the royal pain portion of the Kings’ schedule.

In short, this one’s pretty important for both the Oilers and the Kings.

NHL scores from Monday

Maple Leafs 6, Kraken 2
Blackhawks 3, Jets 1
Wild 7, Red Wings 4
Oilers 3, Sharks 0

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.

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    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

    mark stone surgery
    Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports
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    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

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    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.

    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”

    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.