Emboldened by Boldy, should Wild be NHL trade deadline buyers?

Emboldened by Boldy, should Wild be NHL trade deadline buyers?
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Look, most of us thought Kirill Kaprizov would inject some life into the Wild. Instead, Kaprizov delivered beyond just about the wildest expectations for the Wild, basically from the start of his Calder-winning campaign in 2020-21.

Could rising rookie Matt Boldy raise the Wild’s ceiling in his own right?

Sure, it’s silly to jump to too many conclusions after 13 games with Boldy. That said, it’s also silly just how great Boldy’s been for the Wild, right from the start.

If Boldy keeps this up for the Wild, he might even force himself into Calder Trophy discussions. Generating a hat trick (plus an assist) on Monday really put an exclamation point on Boldy’s bold beginning.

So, let’s take a look at the Wild’s rise this season, particularly since Boldy joined the lineup in January. From there, let’s ask: should the Wild go all-in as buyers at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline?

The most explosive Wild offense ever has been even hotter lately

Despite carrying that Wild moniker, Minnesota’s latest NHL franchise hasn’t exactly been known for high-octane, white-knuckle offense. Back in December, it was noted that the Wild have only averaged 3+ goals during five seasons.

At that time, averaging 3.68 goals per game represented uncharted territory. Yet, instead of cooling off, the Wild have only raise the temperature.

  • Since Boldy’s Jan. 6 debut, the Wild have averaged 4.15 goals per game. That’s second only to the perturbingly potent Panthers (4.64!). The Wild managed an 11-1-1 record during that span.
  • Such a surge pushed their numbers to an even higher level. Overall, the Wild average 3.8 goals per game, trailing only the Panthers (4.09) and Avalanche (4). There’s a significant gap between the Wild and everyone else, starting with the fourth-place Maple Leafs (3.59).
  • They’ve been able to maintain sound defense, too. While their 2.84 goals allowed per game ranks middle-of-the-pack, the Wild have outscored opponents by almost a goal per game on average.

It seems like this team is incrementally climbing toward a pretty optimal combination of potent offense and competent defense. Check out this Hockey Viz map to see how they’re still stout in their own zone:

Emboldened by Boldy, should Wild be NHL trade deadline buyers? 5 vs 5 defense viz
via Hockey Viz

Owning basically all of the high-danger areas and forcing a ton of point shots? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

To be clear, power play numbers are especially vulnerable to cold and hot streaks. That said, there’s some promise in the Wild’s power play shooting to 31.4% in the 13 games since Boldy joined the ranks.

My guess is that both Boldy and the Wild are almost inevitably going to cool off. But if that drop is subtle, rather than drastic, than both the rookie and his team could be extremely dangerous.

Why this is probably the right year for the Wild to buy at the NHL trade deadline

Over at The Athletic, Michael Russo broke down numerous aspects of the Wild trade deadline situation in fantastic detail (sub required). It’s worth your time, especially if you’re a Wild fan.

Russo rummages through trade clauses for potential deadline targets, and wonders how moves might affect chemistry.

There are plenty of valid considerations, but in the bigger picture, it sure feels like there’s a big, neon light flashing “Buy!”

[Wild won’t find much discouragement in PHT’s latest Power Rankings]

Most pressingly, the bills really kick in for the Ryan Suter/Zach Parise buyouts starting next season. To review, the combined salary cap costs look like this, via Cap Friendly:

2021-22: $4,743,588 million
2022-23: $12,743,588 million
2023-24: $14,743,588 million
2024-25: $14,743,588 million

If the Wild salary cap situation and this hot streak don’t already prompt trade deadline spending, the potential targets should make the difference. The Wild could really use another quality center, and there are a few who could be had.

  • The Sharks may re-sign Tomas Hertl. Frankly, they probably should just trade him. In that event, he’d be a splendid, maybe even tide-turning trade deadline rental for the Wild.
  • Joe Pavelski is mesmerizingly malleable. Need a center? He still appears viable at that position, but he can also slide to RW. He can score without corrupting the Wild’s defensive vision. In fact, he was my choice for the 2021 Selke Trophy. Though he wouldn’t quite fill that bill this season, Pavelski’s a tremendous two-way player.
  • Russo makes a valid point that Claude Giroux hasn’t spent much time at center lately. Still, it’s valid that he has plenty of experience at that position. Maybe he’d still be an upgrade there, particularly if he’s insulated with quality wingers?

Check out these multi-season RAPM charts from Evolving Hockey, and you may conclude that both Giroux and Pavelski might even be a bit underrated this deep into their careers:

Emboldened by Boldy, should Wild be NHL trade deadline buyers? RAPM charts
via Evolving Hockey

My guess is that the price would be steeper for J.T. Miller … maybe too steep for the Wild. But he’s another versatile forward who could boost an already worthy Wild team.

Sometimes slow and steady gives way to a smart gamble

Some might point out that, even with an upgrade, the Wild may fall short of the Avalanche’s peerless talent. Fair, but you never know what will happen — or, really, who you might face — in this league’s playoffs. The Avalanche looked nigh-unbeatable last season, too.

Yes, the Wild can find ways to talk themselves out of being NHL trade deadline buyers. Under normal circumstances, they’d often be taking a sober viewpoint.

Yet, thanks to the Parise/Suter buyouts and a jump in expectations, there may never be a better time than now. The Wild should seize the day, and the NHL trade deadline.

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.

Malkin’s late goal lifts Penguins past Ovechkin, Caps 4-3

penguins capitals
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH — Evgeni Malkin remains a live wire. Even now, 17 seasons into a career that is likely destined for the Hall of Fame, there’s an unpredictability the Pittsburgh Penguins star plays with that can be both endearing and exasperating to teammates and coaches alike.

The latest proof came against Washington on Saturday.

An untimely roughing penalty in the third period helped spark a Capitals’ rally from a three-goal deficit. Malkin made up for it by burying a breakaway with 1:20 left in regulation that lifted the Penguins to a 4-3 victory.

“His care factor and his compete level for me is off the charts and that’s what I love about him and usually when the stakes are high that’s when he’s at his best,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “He gets a huge goal for us tonight at a key time.”

Malkin’s 25th goal of the season – a low wrist shot to the far post – helped the Penguins avoid a potentially messy collapse. Pittsburgh appeared to be ready to cruise to victory after Jake Guentzel‘s power-play goal 27 seconds into the third period made it 3-0.

Washington instead stormed back, with Alex Ovechkin right in the middle of it. Ovechkin scored his 42nd goal of the season and 822nd of his career from his favorite spot in the left circle with 6:42 to go in regulation. Washington drew even when Dylan Strome flipped the puck into an open net with 2:44 to go in regulation.

Yet instead of sagging, the Penguins surged. Malkin stripped Washington’s Anthony Mantha near center ice and broke in alone on Kuemper. Seconds later, the puck was in the net and Malkin was on one knee celebrating while pumping his fists, the kind of display of raw emotion that’s become one of his trademarks.

“It’s a huge goal for me, and two points for the team,” Malkin said.

Pittsburgh moved three points clear of Florida after the Panthers lost to the earlier Saturday. Both teams have nine regular-season games left.

Ryan Poehling and Chad Ruhwedel scored a little over two minutes apart in the second period for Pittsburgh. Jake Guentzel added his team-high 32nd goal early in the third before Washington scrambled back. Casey DeSmith played spectacularly at times while finishing with 31 saves.

Tom Wilson started the Capitals’ comeback with his ninth goal of the season 5:19 into the third. Kuemper stopped 36 shots, but was outplayed by DeSmith as Washington’s hopes of making a late push for a playoff berth took a serious hit. The Capitals are six points behind Pittsburgh with only eight games remaining.

“It’s a tough one,” Washington center T.J. Oshie said. “I don’t think that last play was the only thing that lost the game for us. I know that (Mantha) feels terrible about it, but we trust him with the puck. It just wasn’t a good enough 60 minutes against a good hockey team over there.”

It felt like old times for much of the night for teams that usually enter late March battling for a spot near the top of the Metropolitan Division.

Not this season.

While the 35-year-old Crosby is averaging over a point a game as usual and the 37-year-old Ovechkin is steadily making inroads on Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record, their teams have spent most of the year skating in place.

Pittsburgh has been wildly uneven thanks in part to goaltending that has fluctuated between solid and shaky, the main reason a 17th straight playoff appearance is hardly assured. Washington, meanwhile, appears to be pointing toward the future after injuries and a small sell-off at the trade deadline.

Pittsburgh put itself on slightly firmer footing with DeSmith making a compelling case that he should supplant Tristan Jarry as Pittsburgh’s top goaltender down the stretch.

DeSmith was spectacular at times, including stoning Ovechkin on a breakaway near the end of the second period in which Ovechkin deked DeSmith to his knees, only to see DeSmith extend his left leg just enough to knock the puck out of harm’s way.

“I’m not very tall,” the 6-foot DeSmith said. “But I had that one inch that I needed.”


Capitals: Host the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Penguins: Visit Detroit on Tuesday.

Devils defeat Senators 5-3, clinch playoff berth

devils senators
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

NEWARK, N.J. — Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist, Mackenzie Blackwood had 25 saves and the New Jersey Devils defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-3 and clinched a playoff berth on Saturday night.

“It means everything to the group. I went into the dressing room after the game and just said that I was proud of the work that was put in, proud of where we got to clinch tonight to be one of three teams that have an X next to their name,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “All the work that’s been put in, the adversity they face during the year. The adversity they face right at the start of the season to where we’ve got to now.”

New Jersey could have clinched its first postseason berth since 2018 with a win, but it happened before their first intermission when the Florida Panthers lost to the New York Rangers in regulation.

“I had a lesser role then,” said Jesper Bratt, who was a rookie for the Devils in 2017-18. “I would say at a younger age, it’s kind of like you think that just because it happened your first year that it might happen every year. And then it goes pretty fast with reality that was not the case and you got to work extremely hard for it.

“It’s a really tough league. So this feels really good. It’s been a lot of years with struggle, not winning, and it’s just awesome coming out now playing these kinds of games and getting that.”

Bratt, Dawson Mercer and Dougie Hamilton scored for the Devils and Tomas Tatar scored an empty netter with 42.3 seconds left to put things away.

Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot and Mark Kastelic scored for the Senators and Dylan Ferguson had 30 saves.

Tkachuk scored his 33rd goal of the season to give the Senators the 1-0 lead 3:14 into the first period. The Devils responded midway through the first period with Hughes’ 40th goal of the season on a breakaway, going five-hole to tie it.

Nick Holden gave the puck away and Bratt scored his 31st goal of the season on the breakaway 2:24 into the second period to give New Jersey the 2-1 lead. Mercer’s 23rd of the season came just over a minute later.

The Senators answered midway through the second period when Thomas Chabot scored his 11th goal of the year to cut the deficit to 3-2. They knotted things up 16:03 into the second when Kastelic scored his fifth of the season.

“We were confident going into the third period. We felt like the game was there for our taking,” Travis Hamonic said. “They score on their chance, and that’s game.”

Hamilton scored 3:34 into the third period to give the Devils the lead. His 19th goal breaks the franchise record for goals in a season by a defenseman, surpassing Scott Stevens – the Devils great whose number is hanging in the rafters – record of 18 in 1993-94.

NOTES: This was the first game for the Devils backup Blackwood since Feb. 19. … Nico Hischier has a six-game point streak after recording two assists.


Senators: Host the Florida Panthers on Monday night.

Devils: Play at New York Islanders on Monday night. —

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Kings tie franchise mark with point in 11th straight game

kings jets
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Viktor Arvidsson had two goals and the Los Angeles Kings matched their longest point streak in franchise history with a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon.

Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist and Alex Iafallo netted a power-play goal for Los Angeles, which has earned points in 11 straight games for the fourth time. The last occurrence was 2013-14, when the Kings won their second Stanley Cup championship.

Joonas Korpisalo stopped 25 shots for Los Angeles.

Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for Winnipeg and Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves.

Arvidsson – who has 22 goals on the season – has four in the last four games while Doughty has found the net four times in the last five games.

Arvidsson’s first goal came 82 seconds into the game. Trevor Moore won the faceoff in the offensive zone and made a backhand pass to Arvidsson, who snapped it into the net from the back of the left faceoff circle.

He also had an empty-net goal late in the third period.

The Kings extended their lead to 2-0 five minutes into the second period on the power play. Phillip Danault made a great pass between Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon and Hellebuyck as Iafallo buried it into the short side of the net.

Doughty extended the lead to 3-1 27 seconds into the third period with a wrist shot from outside the right faceoff circle near the boards after Anze Kopitar won the faceoff.


Winnipeg got its first power-play goal in seven games with 1:23 remaining in the second period when Dubois took a cross-ice pass from Kyle Connor and scored from the left faceoff circle to get the Jets within 2-1.

The Jets got a five-minute power play after Los Angeles’ Blake Lizotte received a five-minute match penalty for a vicious cross-check to Josh Morrissey’s face. The goal came with 33 seconds left in the man advantage.

NOTES: Danault picked up his 300th career point and 200th assist. … Winnipeg’s Connor set a career high for most assists in a season when he got his 47th on Dubois’ goal.


Jets: Travel to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Kings: Host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

Coyotes minority owner suspended by NHL following arrest

coyotes suspension
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NEW YORK — Arizona Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Friday following his arrest for domestic violence in Colorado.

Online court records show Barroway was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of second-degree assault strangulation, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He appeared in court Friday to be advised of the possible charges he is facing and is scheduled to back in court on April 3.

Barroway spent Thursday night in Pitkin County Jail after police arrested him at an Aspen hotel, according to a police report obtained by the Aspen Daily News.

“The National Hockey League is aware of the arrest of Arizona Coyotes’ minority owner Andrew Barroway,” the NHL said in a statement. “Pending further information, he has been suspended indefinitely.”

The 57-year-old Barroway was arrested after a verbal altercation with his wife turned physical, according to the police report. He is prohibited from having contact with his wife, except when it involves their children, and can’t consume alcohol under a court order.

A prominent hedge fund manager, Barroway owns 5% of the Coyotes.

“We are aware of the allegation regarding Mr. Barroway and we are working with the League to gather more information,” the Coyotes said in a statement. “When we have enough information, we will have an appropriate response. Until the investigation is complete, we will have no further comment.”