Top player in the NHL on Wednesday
Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild have been trending in the wrong direction over the past few weeks and need to start stacking some wins together again. They got a big win on Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins, 4-2, thanks to another big game from superstar forward Kirill Kaprizov. He scored two goals for the Wild to help jumpstart their offense, giving him 32 goals on the season. He has been a franchise changing player since arriving in Minnesota a year ago and has built on his breakout rookie season in his sophomore campaign.
Highlights from around the NHL on Wednesday
Andrew Mangiapane continues his career year for the Calgary Flames with his 30th goal of the season.
Jordan Greenway breaks a 2-2 tie in the third period for the Minnesota Wild against the Boston Bruins. This is the game-winning goal.
Victor Hedman scores his second goal of the game for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their 4-1 win over the Seattle Kraken.
Three takeaways from the NHL on Wednesday
Flames add to lead in Pacific Division
The Calgary Flames are starting to run away with the top spot in the Pacific Division and added to their lead in the standings on Wednesday night with a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. They now have a commanding lead over every other team in the division by points percentage and are looking like one of the most well rounded and balanced teams in the league, especially now that they have added to their forward depth with a pair of trades (we will get to that again in a minute). They have some elite, top-line forwards, an outstanding team defensive approach, and great goaltending. They are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders right now.
The trades are arriving
It has been a slow trade deadline season to this point but that really started to change on Wednesday with three different trades. The Florida Panthers made two of those moves, by first sending forward Frank Vatrano to the New York Rangers in a salary cap clearing move and then using that newfound salary cap space to acquire Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens (for a fairly steep price). After that, the Calgary Flames added another solid forward to their lineup by acquiring Calle Jarnkrok from the Seattle Kraken for three draft picks.
There is a big name now off the trade market
You can forget about San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl being on the move before Monday after he signed an eight-year contract extension with the team on Wednesday with a total of $65.1 million, averaging out to a salary cap number of $8.1 million per season. He would have been the top player available without a new deal, and an absolute game-changer for any team that acquired him, but he is staying in San Jose. It is an interesting move for the Sharks and Hertl, because San Jose does not seem to be a team that is going to be a Stanley Cup contender anytime soon. They are looking at a rebuild, but Hertl figures to be the focal point of it and he seems to be okay with that instead of testing the open market to see what he could get from a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
Thursday’s big story
The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Carolina Hurricanes in a game featuring two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is looking to break out of its recent struggles and figure out its goalie situation, while the Hurricanes goalie situation is as strong as ever thanks in large part to Frederik Andersen, the goalie Toronto let get away. Erik Kallgren starts his second game in a row for the Maple Leafs in goal. The other big game on Thursday will be in Vegas where the Vegas Golden Knights desperately need a win to help their suddenly fading playoff chances. They have the worst possible opponent for that in the Florida Panthers. Claude Giroux will also be playing his 1,000th game for the Philadelphia Flyers, perhaps just before a trade before Monday to send him to a Stanley Cup contender.
Wednesday’s NHL Scores
Minnesota Wild 4, Boston Bruins 2
Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Ottawa Senators 1
Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Seattle Kraken 1
Calgary Flames 6, New Jersey Devils 3
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.