NHL Rink Wrap: Ovechkin passes Jagr; Ducks, Golden Knights keep losing

NHL Rink Wrap: Ovechkin passes Jagr; Ducks, Golden Knights keep losing
John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images

Tuesday’s top NHL players

Erik Källgren, Maple Leafs

Now this is how you make your NHL debut. During a brutal time for Maple Leafs goaltending, Erik Källgren pitched a 35-shutout to blank Dallas, handing the Stars their third consecutive loss. (Not the best way to celebrate keeping Joe Pavelski around, by the way.)

Understandably, a natural reaction to Erik Källgren pitching a shutout during the NHL action on Tuesday is to ask, “Who is Erik Källgren?”

Here are a few quick tidbits:

  • He’s the fourth goalie in Maple Leafs franchise history to generate a shutout in their NHL debut.
  • The 25-year-old was drafted … barely. Back in 2015, the Coyotes picked Erik Källgren in the seventh round (183rd overall).
  • Källgren apparently skated with fellow Swede Rasmus Dahlin this summer. Sandin told David Alter that the netminder “smiles a lot” and is the “nicest guy.”
  • So far, his work has been sparse in North America. In 26 games with the AHL’s Marlies this season, Källgren recorded a 15-8-1 record and .904 save percentage. In 2019-20, Källgren played two games for the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate. Other than that, he’s spent most of his time playing overseas.

So, not much to go off of there. Strange things can happen with goalies, but this mostly seems like a nice story instead of a building storyline.

Tuesday NHL highlights

Watch Alex Ovechkin pass Jaromir Jagr for third all-time in NHL goals with number 767:

In an emotional moment, Sharks fans greeted Joe Thornton during his return to the “Shark Tank.” Apparently 6,934 days passed between Thornton’s games as a visitor in San Jose.

Artemi Panarin set up Adam Fox for an overtime game-winner. Both Rangers players generated three points in that win against the Ducks:

David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall, and Matt Grzelcyk combined for a nice OT game-winner to keep the Bruins hot:

Not many announcers will use the phrase “full tentacles,” but this Jake Oettinger save earned the unusual description. Did you guess that Daryl “Razor” Reaugh made that call?

Josh Bailey made some great moves to set up Kyle Palmieri:

Tuesday NHL Takeaways

Alex Ovechkin passes Jaromir Jagr for third all-time in goals with number 767

In the 1,256th game of his career, Alex Ovechkin scored goal 767, breaking a tie with Jaromir Jagr for third all-time in NHL goals. You can see that nice little tally in the Tuesday NHL highlights section.

With that, Ovechkin only trails Gordie Howe (801) and Wayne Gretzky (894) on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list.

As Jagr noted in a kind video to Ovechkin, the Capitals winger now owns the most goals scored of any European skater. For all Jagr accomplished in his splendid (and still-going) career, Ovechkin’s goal pace really is on another level:

Auston Matthews and others hold an edge in the Maurice Richard Trophy race, but Ovechkin’s 37 goals remain impressive. Consider a few other facts about Ovechkin at 767 goals:

  • In the likely event Ovechkin reaches 40 goals, he’d hit that mark for a 12th time, which would tie Wayne Gretzky for the all-time mark.
  • If Ovechkin reaches 50, he’d be the third player (along with Gretzky and Mike Bossy) to record nine seasons of 50+ goals, and he’d be the first to do so at age 36 or older.
  • With 120 career game-winning goals, Ovechkin ranks third all-time. He’s one away from tying Gordie Howe for second (121 GWG), while Jagr is number one with 135.
  • Ovechkin’s 279 power-play goals already represent the most in NHL history.

Golden Knights, Ducks both lose fifth game in a row

It’s been mentioned before, but every loss should push the Ducks closer to being obvious trade deadline sellers. Generally, Ducks GM Pat Verbeek has been messaging that way, and they already traded defenseman Josh Manson.

As bizarre as it might seem, the Golden Knights inspire at least some questions about slipping to trade deadline seller status. Really, how could they not?

Following an ugly 7-3 loss to the Jets, the Golden Knights are now on a five-game losing streak. They managed zero points from a five-game road trip, as every defeat happened during regulation.

[A look at the Golden Knights’ predicament earlier in this losing streak]

Painfully, the Golden Knights should’ve won most of these games, at least on paper. Beyond the Penguins, the Golden Knights lost to four teams likely to miss the playoffs: Buffalo, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Winnipeg.

Yes, injuries hurt matters. To an extent, that’s a risk you run with a top-heavy team, not to mention one that’s skewing a bit on the older side. In the case of this loss to the Jets, Peter DeBoer grumbled about goaltending.

But that’s not really been a fair way to summarize their overall struggles. Despite paying big on the likes of Alex Pietrangelo, the Golden Knights’ defense has often been a big problem this season. Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Chandler Stephenson are doing what they can, but the team’s only point-per-game players are injured.

Should this losing streak push the Golden Knights to sell at the trade deadline? They don’t need to panic — really, they’re stuck to the point where they can’t really “blow things up” — but it may not be a bad idea to be mild sellers. With expiring contracts, Reilly Smith and others likely know their days are numbered. Maybe it would be best to move them along, and hope to make the playoffs anyway?

Not a lot of easy answers for Vegas right now.

Avalanche trade for Sturm, Wild receive Jost

Wisely or not, teams are marking names off of the trade deadline list. The Avalanche are still working on moves, though, ones that may or may not open up a possible Claude Giroux trade. Either way, saving some money and possibly upgrading by landing Nico Sturm for Tyson Jost is a nice bit of business.

Here’s hoping that we see some splashy trades, though. This is more a nice, modest move, as this RAPM comparison chart exemplifies (via Evolving Hockey):

NHL Rink Wrap: Ovechkin passes Jagr; Ducks, Golden Knights keep losing trade Sturm Jost
via Evolving Hockey

While I’m not in love with the trade for the Wild, they might bank on perceived potential. Jost (24) is a little younger than Sturm (26).

Wednesday’s big story

Bruins vs. Wild: battle of two 2022 NHL Trade Deadline buyers?

Few teams make as much sense as trade deadline buyers as the Bruins and Wild. There are teams in more desperate situations, and clearer top contenders. But context gives each team incentive to improve via a trade.

In the case of the Wild, they’ll see a big salary cap crunch starting next season, and spiking for the two seasons afterward. The Bruins have their own looming uncertainty (particularly Patrice Bergeron‘s expiring contract), and also boast the sort of aging core whose window may close.

[PHT Roundtable on teams who should be aggressive at trade deadline]

So both the Bruins and Wild should gear up at the trade deadline. They’re worth watching beyond that armchair GM angle, too. The red-hot Bruins are hot enough to possibly move above the wild-card fray. Due to some recent slippage, the Wild have to worry about the West wild card situation at least a bit. (Games in hand make things a little complicated.)

The Bruins and Wild don’t meet that often, yet a game like this could nudge each team ever so slightly toward being more or less aggressive at the trade deadline.

Tuesday NHL scores

Maple Leafs 4, Stars 0
Coyotes 6, Canadiens 3
Rangers 4, Ducks 3 (OT)
Capitals 4, Islanders 3 (SO)
Predators 4, Penguins 1
Jets 7, Golden Knights 3
Bruins 2, Blackhawks 1 (OT)
Oilers 7, Red Wings 5
Canucks 6, Devils 3
Avalanche 3, Kings 0
Panthers 3, Sharks 2 (OT)

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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    NHL top prospect Connor Bedard draws comparisons to Connor McDavid as draft approaches

    connor bedard
    Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — The NHL is going to have another Connor to contend with very shortly.

    For everything two-time NHL MVP Connor McDavid has accomplished in Edmonton since being selected No. 1 in the 2015 draft, Connor Bedard is on the same trajectory in being pegged as this year’s top eligible draft prospect, Central Scouting director Dan Marr said Friday.

    “He’s right up there with Connor McDavid, it’s just the next generation,” Marr said in touting Bedard’s quickness, shot and ability to read and adapt. “So Connor McDavid started that trend, and Connor Bedard is going to lead it into the next trend.”

    The annual NHL pre-draft combine in Buffalo, New York, is resembling more of a coronation for the 17-year-old Bedard, who has spent the past two years putting up generational numbers with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League while also shining against his peers on the international stage.

    “I think you can use a lot of adjectives to describe it,” Regina coach John Paddock told The Associated Press recently in comparing Bedard’s production at the same age level to McDavid and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

    “That’s quite a high ceiling,” said Paddock, a former NHL coach and player. “But there’s no indication he’s not going to do that based on what he’s done to date.”

    The Chicago Blackhawks own the No. 1 pick, and are highly anticipated to use it on Bedard when the draft opens in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 28.

    Bedard held his latest meeting with the Blackhawks at the combine in a relationship that began at a top-prospects camp in Toronto last summer.

    Bedard’s arrival would coincide with the franchise in transition, with Chicago moving on from its aging core after trading 2007 No. 1 pick, Patrick Kane, and with captain Jonathan Toews’ future uncertain.

    “Yeah, it’d be awesome,” Bedard said of the possibility of being selected by the Blackhawks. “The history of that organization, that city with sports would be unbelievable. We’ll see what happens, but to be selected, that would be a huge honor.”

    Bedard said he’s following McDavid’s advice to stay in the moment and not peak too far ahead. He added, his dream to play in the NHL began no different than those of his colleagues: the moment he picked up a hockey stick growing up in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

    What separates Bedard, however, is his exceptional skating ability and a hard shot, which is even more lethal given his quick release.

    With Bedard the likely top pick, the intrigue at the draft is likely to revolve around who rounds out the remainder of the top five selections.

    University of Michigan’s Adam Fantilli is second among North American skaters on Central Scouting’s final list, followed by top American prospect, William Smith, who played for USA Hockey’s developmental program. The top two European skaters are also considered in the mix with Sweden’s Leo Carlsson and Russia’s Matvei Michkov.

    Anaheim is scheduled to pick second followed by Columbus, San Jose and Montreal.

    Marr gives the edge to Bedard while also being impressed with Fantilli – just the third freshman to win the Hobey Baker Trophy awarded to college hockey’s top players – in a draft class considered very deep with offensive-minded forwards.

    “You’re going to win with both,” Marr said. “And whoever gets these two players they’re going to help define a franchise.”

    What distinguishes Bedard, who doesn’t turn 18 until next month, has been his consistency.

    Last season, his 71 goals in just 57 games were the most in the WHL since Pavel Brendl scored 73 in 1998-99. Bedard’s 143 points were the most in the CHL since three players topped that mark in 1995-96. And it was a season in which he enjoyed 10 games with five or more points, and just five games in which he failed to register a point.

    In 2020-21, Bedard became just the third WHL 16-year-old to reach 100 points, and was the youngest to score 50 goals in finishing with 51.

    He’s also made a splash on the international stage. Bedard led Canada with nine goals and 23 points at the world juniors last winter, and his combined production of 17 goals and 36 points in just 16 games ranks fourth on the career tournament list.

    Bedard has honed his talent by spending countless hours practicing shots in his backyard, which he referred to as his “Happy Place.” He was so dedicated to work on his shot that he preferred practicing than joining his family for a vacation to Disneyland, and eventually vacationed in Hawaii but only after he was allowed to bring his inline skates and sticks to practice.

    Noted for being soft-spoken, Bedard said he’s not yet allowed himself to envision being drafted or making his NHL debut yet.

    “It’s hard kind of think of that. But of course, I’ll work as hard as I can to try to achieve that goal,” he said. “And hopefully I do.”

    Blue Jackets acquire D Damon Severson from Devils after he signs 8-year deal

    blue jackets
    Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

    The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Damon Severson from the New Jersey Devils on Friday after the veteran defenseman and soon-to-be free agent signed an eight-year $50 million contract.

    Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen sent a third-round pick, 80th overall, in this month’s draft to the Devils for Severson, who will be under contract through the 2030-31 NHL season.

    Severson had 58 goals and 205 assists in 647 career appearances with the Devils since making his NHL debut in 2014-15. He scored seven game-winning goals and averaged more than 21 minutes of playing time during his nine seasons. The 28-year-old had seven goals and 26 assists this season, including two game-winning goals, in 81 games.

    “Damon is a versatile defenseman who has great vision, moves the puck extremely well, has good size and can play heavy minutes at both ends of the ice,” Kekalainen said.

    The Canadian was selected in the second round in the 2012 draft. He has collected 30 or more points five times in his career and twice notched 11 or more goals. He played in every game in three straight seasons from 2018-21 and has played 80 or more contests four times in his career.

    With the addition of the third-round pick, New Jersey now has six selections in the draft, including its own picks in rounds two, four, five, six and seven.

    Matthew Tkachuk returns from big hit in Stanley Cup Final, adds more playoff heroics

    James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
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    Matthew Tkachuk was down, out briefly and then back with plenty of time to make a difference.

    The Florida Panthers star left early in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after a big hit from Vegas Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar, and he missed most of the first period and didn’t return immediately following intermission while being evaluated for a concussion. After looking as if he might be lost for the night, Tkachuk returned in the second and then came through with more of his now trademark playoff heroics.

    Tkachuk scored the tying goal with 2:13 left in regulation, forcing overtime and giving the Panthers new life. He then provided the screen on Carter Verhaeghe‘s OT goal for a 3-2 victory that cut Florida’s series deficit to 2-1.

    The 25-year-old said he knew he was coming back when he left the game, pulled by concussion spotters. That absence felt like a long time ago in the aftermath of another big win he was largely responsible for.

    “I felt great – I feel great,” Tkachuk said. “I’m ready to go. Everybody’s excited that we’re in this position right now.”

    Florida is in this position rather than facing elimination in Game 4 on Saturday thanks in large part to Tkachuk, who also set up Brandon Montour‘s goal that opened the scoring less than five minutes in.

    Not long after, Tkachuk stumbled getting up after the hit from Kolesar and skated to the bench. He took a shift on Florida’s power play before going down the tunnel at the demand of concussion spotters mandated by NHL protocol.

    At that point, there was zero clarity, even on the Florida bench.

    “You’re not informed at all: It’s a complete shutdown,” coach Paul Maurice said. “You are completely in the dark on those. You don’t know when the player’s coming back. There’s not an update.”

    Players insist they were not worried. Montour called it a no-brainer.

    “He’s going to come back no matter what,” captain Aleksander Barkov said. “He’s really tough guy, and he’s going to battle through everything.”

    Tkachuk rejoined his teammates on the bench a few minutes into the second. When he stepped back onto the ice for his first shift since leaving, fans cheered and chanted, “Chucky! Chucky!”

    The crowd was even louder and threw rats when Tkachuk scored his biggest goal of many during this run to tie it. He didn’t get an assist on Verhaeghe’s goal but made it happen with a tape-to-tape pass in the neutral zone and was in front of Adin Hill when it happened.

    Asked if he was happy Tkachuk returned, Maurice joked that it was after midnight.

    “It was fine,” he quipped.

    Panthers rally, top Golden Knights 3-2 in OT of Game 3 of Stanley Cup final

    stanley cup final
    Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports

    SUNRISE, Fla. — Carter Verhaeghe scored 4:27 into overtime and the Florida Panthers pulled off some more postseason dramatics to beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night.

    Matthew Tkachuk tied it with 2:13 left in the third period for the Panthers, who got the franchise’s first title-series game win in seven tries. Florida had to fend off a power play to start overtime, and Verhaeghe got the winner from the slot to get the Panthers within 2-1 in the series.

    Game 4 is Saturday night.

    Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots for Florida. Adin Hill made 20 saves for Vegas, but got beat on the only shot that came his way in overtime.

    Brandon Montour also scored for Florida, which pulled Bobrovsky down 2-1 late in the third for the extra attacker and Tkachuk — who left for parts of the first and second periods after taking a big hit — made that move pay off when he tied the game.

    His goal breathed life into a very nervous building. But the Panthers were furious — and replays showed they had a case — when Gustav Forsling was sent to the box with 11.2 seconds remaining for tripping. Florida survived that scare, and a few minutes later, had life in the series again.

    The odds are still long, but the Panthers at least have a bit more statistical hope now. Of the previous 55 teams to trail 2-1 at this point of the Stanley Cup Final, 11 have actually rallied to hoist the trophy.

    It’s improbable, sure. So are the Panthers, who were the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, were down 3-1 to Boston in Round 1, were 133 seconds away from trailing this series 3-0 — and now have tons of reasons for optimism.

    Jonathan Marchessault and Mark Stone each had power-play goals for Vegas.

    Marchessault’s goal was his 13th in his last 13 playoff games, his fourth of this series and his third with the man advantage.

    As if all that wasn’t enough, there was a little history in there as well. Vegas joined the 1980 New York Islanders as the only team with at least two power-play goals in three consecutive games in the Cup final. And Marchessault became the third player in the last 35 years to score in each of the first three games of a title series — joining Steve Yzerman in 1997 with Detroit and Jake Guentzel with Pittsburgh in 2017.

    But it wasn’t enough to give Vegas a 3-0 lead in the series.


    Before Thursday, Florida’s last home game in the title series was June 10, 1996, when Uwe Krupp scored in the third overtime for a 1-0 win as Colorado finished off a four-game sweep of the Panthers for the Cup. … Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was in the crowd, as was NBA great Charles Barkley, and former Dolphins star Dan Marino was the celebrity drummer to welcome the Panthers onto the ice.