Tuesday’s top NHL players
Thomas Chabot, Senators
Here’s a take before the Tuesday NHL Takeaways section: the Senators often aren’t getting their money’s worth with costly players.
Most obviously, they’re dropping almost $11 million on the dubious duo of Matt Murray and Nikita Zaitsev. While I have plenty of time for Brady Tkachuk and his antics, it sure feels like he’ll need time to “grow into” his $8.33+ million cap hit.
When it comes to Thomas Chabot, the value proposition is a little fuzzier.
At times, the 25-year-old’s $8M cap hit feels a touch steep. But there are enough times where he seems worth it — maybe even a slight bargain — that the Senators don’t need to lose much sleep about his contract. (Especially since lesser defensemen are making even more after a wild offseason gold rush.)
In his 300th NHL game, Thomas Chabot nabbed player of the night honors for Tuesday with two goals and an assist. His second tally ended up being the game-winner.
Even with that three-point bump, Chabot’s pace (now 27 points in 46 games) would only translate to about 48 points over an 82-game season. Not terrible, but not a slam dunk for that $8M price tag, either. Yet he seems like the sort of net positive the Senators sorely need. Take, for instance, his RAPM chart from Evolving Hockey, which speaks to a mix of strong offense and defense that doesn’t take too much away from the table.
If Chabot can improve a bit more in his end, then Ottawa may end up grinning about that $8M. As it stands, it’s at least not looking overly offensive.
Tuesday NHL highlights
Patrik Laine stayed red-hot, scoring the overtime game-winner for the Blue Jackets over the Maple Leafs:
Patrik Laine ends a close game with this @SamuelAdamsBeer OT winner! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/b2ZlUMYoPO
— NHL (@NHL) February 23, 2022
But Mitch Marner‘s been on a tear lately, too, and this assist is something else.
The goal: Great.
That Mitch Marner assist: Incredible. Amazing. Show Stopping. Spectacular. pic.twitter.com/fcLxkiPraj
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 23, 2022
This Adam Boqvist goal was nice, too, unless you’re a Leafs fan.
Soak in the many twists and turns from the Predators’ comeback win against the Panthers. For more on that Panthers – Predators game, check the Tuesday NHL Takeaways.
As mentioned before, Thomas Chabot factored heavily into the Senators upsetting the Wild. His second goal of the game ended up being the game-winner:
CHABOT AGAIN! Thomas Chabot beats a crossed-up Talbot with a gorgeous top-shelf shot to give the Senators the 4-3 lead!#GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/uybNIiWsjV
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) February 23, 2022
There’s something symbolic about this phantom puck battle between the Canucks and Kraken, right?
I give you the funniest play of the #Canucks season. ✨ MAGIC ✨ pic.twitter.com/jG8mPLYxfE
— Lachlan Irvine (@LachInTheCrease) February 22, 2022
Tuesday NHL Takeaways
Predators end losing streak, never give up vs. Panthers
If a comeback win over the powerful Panthers ends up being a summary of this season for the Predators, then it would read “Nashville won’t quit.”
There were forces tugging and pulling them in the direction of giving up, too. For one, the Predators took a four-game losing streak into this road game against the Panthers. More immediately, the Panthers built leads of 1-0, 3-1, and 4-3. A lesser team might have buckled, possibly after what looked like a big goal was nullified by a video review. During the second period alone, the Panthers fired 20 shots on goal.
Despite plenty of signs pointing toward a Panthers win, the Predators kept rally. During the second period, they quickly turned a 3-1 deficit into a 3-3 tie. After Sam Bennett gave the Panthers a 4-3 lead, the Predators responded with a shorthanded goal less than two minutes later.
[See where Predators, Panthers stand in PHT’s latest Power Rankings]
Ultimately, special teams stood as a big difference-maker. That shorthanded goal was huge, and then Mikael Granlund scored the eventual game-winner on the power play. The Predators could only really breathe easy once Tanner Jeannot scored his second goal of the night with an empty-netter.
When we look back at this contest, it might seem like a blip on the radar. The Predators still have a lot of work to do, while the Panthers are mainly trying to maintain their hold over the Atlantic Division title. Still, it at least feels like another lesson not to count out a Preds team that came into this season with very low expectations.
Extensions instead of NHL trade deadline deals?
During a Tuesday edition of TSN’s Insider Trading, Pierre LeBrun noted that new Ducks GM Pat Verbeek reached out to Hampus Lindholm‘s reps about a possible contract extension, potentially removing him as an NHL trade deadline target. That would potentially take the “No. 1” NHL trade deadline target off of the market.
In a separate piece at The Athletic (sub required), LeBrun caught up with Stars GM Jim Nill. Nill told LeBrun that it’s his “hope” to sign Joe Pavelski to a contract extension.
Crucially, the Ducks may merely be practicing due diligence with Lindholm, and the Stars might just be keeping their options open with Pavelski. It’s always wiser to take these comments with a grain of salt.
[At least PHT’s Adam Gretz is also baffled at times by the Stars]
However, it must be said that both paths could be paved with regrets. Lindholm isn’t ancient at 28, but his overall value has waned to the point that he may struggle to live up to his current $5.2M value, let alone a raise to top defenseman money. Pavelski remains shockingly effective for the Stars, but his age (37) can’t be ignored by a Stars team that’s squandered what could be his final years of peak performance.
Giving up players like Lindholm and Pavelski can be unpleasant. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, though. Look at the Stars’ history, in particular, and you’ll see a team that balked at dealing players at trade deadlines, missed the playoffs, and saw those assets leave for nothing. It happened way back with Brad Richards, and more recently with Jamie Oleksiak.
Maybe it will be worth it for the Ducks to keep Lindholm, and perhaps the Stars might ink Pavelski to a team-friendly contract extension. There are warning signs that those teams may end up doing something that hinders them in the future, though.
Wednesday’s big story
Lightning serve up an interesting test for the improving Oilers
After rattling off five straight wins to begin the Jay Woodcroft era, the Oilers suffered a sobering 7-3 defeat to the Wild. Although the end of a winning streak isn’t the end of the world, the Oilers may ask themselves if the toilet seat is going in the wrong direction again.
Because, for the most part, their schedule is shifting from winnable games to a tough trek. With Wednesday’s game against the Lightning, the Oilers set out on a five-game road trip. The first three games of that stretch could be trying for the Oilers: first the Lightning, then a back-to-back set against the Hurricanes and Panthers.
Could Edmonton follow a five-game winning streak with a four-game skid? It would almost be understandable.
At some point, the Oilers need to show that they can hang with the best of the best, and the Lightning remain among the elite. We’ll see if Woodcroft and the Oilers ace a tough test after what may have merely been a friendly warm-up.
Tuesday NHL scores
Blues 4, Flyers 1
Blue Jackets 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Predators 6, Panthers 4
Senators 4, Wild 3
Islanders 5, Kraken 2
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.