PHT Morning Skate: Strangest moments in playoff history; Jagr isn’t done yet

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Washington National slugger Bryce Harper gets more nervous watching Golden Knights games than he does playing baseball. (USA Today)

Brad Marchand‘s decision to lick an opponent was one of the weirdest moments in playoff history, so Adam Gretz looked at other strange moments that occurred in the postseason. (Yard Barker)

• Amanda Kraus Wilson is a Capitals fan that moved from Virginia to Rochester after she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. On a positive note, Wilson was cleared to fly back to Washington to catch Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. She even got a special jersey signed by some of the players. (Washington Post)

• The NWHL has decided to expand to the great state of Minnesota. “Minnesota is an essential part of women’s hockey in North America. When you consider all of the talented players in this area and the passion this community has for the game, the Whitecaps are going to be incredible on and off the ice,” commissioner Dani Rylan said. (NWHL.Zone)

• Former Montreal Canadiens forward David Desharnais has reportedly agreed to play in the KHL next season. (Montreal Gazette)

• 46-year-old forward Jaromir Jagr isn’t ready to hang up his skates just yet. He’s signed a new one-year deal with HC Kladno. Yes, he’s the owner of the team. (BarDown)

Nate Schmidt went from being a healthy scratch in the playoffs last season to being one of Vegas’ most important blue liners this year. (NHL.com)

• Check out this Q&A with NBC Sports broadcaster Kenny Albert, who talks about why Ovechkin is finally getting his big moment in the playoffs. (New York Post)

• Through two games, the Winnipeg Jets have been able to get shots on Marc-Andre Fleury from in close, but that wasn’t enough to give them a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Final. (Sinbin.Vegas)

• The Jets won some big games on the road in the second round and they’ll probably have to do that again if in Vegas if they want to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. (Winnipeg Sun)

• TSN’s Scott Cullen looks at what the Chicago Blackhawks have to do during the offseason to be successful in 2018-19. (TSN.ca)

• Up top, check out the highlights from last night’s game between the Capitals and Lightning.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

WATCH LIVE: Penguins at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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PROJECTED LINES

Pittsburgh Penguins

Jake Guentzel/Sidney Crosby/Conor Sheary

Carl Hagelin/Evgeni Malkin/Patric Hornqvist

Bryan Rust/Derick Brassard/Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl/Riley Sheahan/Carter Rowney

Brian Dumoulin/Kris Letang

Jamie Oleksiak/Justin Schultz

Olli Maatta/Chad Ruhwedel

Starting goalie: Casey DeSmith

[PHT’s preview for Penguins – Rangers.]

New York Rangers

Chris Kreider/Mika Zibanejad/Jesper Fast

Ryan Spooner/Kevin Hayes/Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey/Vladislav Namestnikov/Pavel Buchnevich

Cody McLeod/David Desharnais/Paul Carey

Marc Staal/Neal Pionk

Brady Skjei/Ryan Sproul

John Gilmour/Rob O'Gara

Starting goalie: Alexandar Georgiev

PHT Morning Skate: ‘Hawks have options this summer; Nolan Patrick’s strong second half

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Up top, check out the highlights from last night’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings.

• The Predators have added forwards Mike Fisher and Ryan Hartman, which means that two good players are going to have to sit. (Predlines)

• What was life like for the Oilers before they got all those first overall picks? (Oilers Nation)

• Jets Nation breaks down the trades that Winnipeg made before the deadline. (Jets Nation)

• The Bruins power play has been slumping of late, but is it cause for concern. (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

Alex Ovechkin‘s gap-tooth smile helped this hockey fan get through a difficult time. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Nolan Patrick got off to a slow start this season, but he’s been a lot better in the second half. (Broad Street Hockey)

• If the Rangers want to do this rebuild right, they have to make sure to play their young players ahead of veterans like David Desharnais, Cody McLeod and Steven Kampfer. (Blue Seat Blogs)

• ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman will have options this off-season. (Second City Hockey)

• Developing multiple young goaltenders is important in today’s NHL. (NHL.com)

• Here’s a deeper look at the hits Ryan Reaves dished out with the Golden Knights and the penalties he took too. (Sinbin.Vegas)

• If you love hockey, you should check out a non-Olympic women’s game. (Toronto Star)

• The Hamilton Spectator looks at how the NHL creates its outdoor rinks. (Hamilton Spectator)

• The NHL is all about youth and speed, but here’s a list of five veterans that have played at a very high level. (The Hockey News)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Oilers trade Brandon Davidson to Islanders

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Maybe the third time will be the charm for Peter Chiarelli.

The first two times he has made a trade with New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow he has, well, let us just say he has not done well.

There was the trade that sent two draft picks to the Islanders for Griffin Reinhart. Those two draft picks turned into Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier. Reinhart is no longer in the Oilers organization and only played 29 games for the team.

Then this past summer he traded Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome. So far this season Eberle has 21 goals and 44 total points  for the Islanders while Strome, who has topped 40 points in a season just once in his career, has just nine goals and 15 assists for the Oilers.

There is no way this trade can turn out to be that bad. Right? Right?!

Let us take a look at it.

The trade: The Edmonton Oilers traded defenseman Brandon Davidson to the New York Islanders in exchange for a 2019 third-round draft pick.

Why the Islanders are making this trade: Have you seen their defense? Have you seen the way they play defensively? They are DESPERATE. They have an offense that can score with the best teams in the NHL. They are getting amazing years out of John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle. They are fourth in the NHL in goals for. They are 31st in goals against. There are only 31 teams in the league. They need to find somebody — anybody! — that can help them prevent goals. Is Davidson a game-changer? Not at all. He is probably at best a bottom-pairing defenseman. But he is something.

The Islanders enter play on Saturday one point out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Why the Oilers are making this trade: They are going nowhere and looking to unload anyone they can. Davidson is in the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent this season and would probably get a bit of a raise over his $1.4 million salary cap hit this season. That is something the Oilers simply can not afford given their salary cap situation. A third-round draft pick in 2019 isn’t a huge score, but it is something.

Davidson was originally drafted by the Oilers in 2010 and remained with the organization until he was traded to Montreal in February of 2017 for David Desharnais.

He played with the Canadiens until a few weeks ago when he was placed on waivers and claimed by the Oilers.

Who won the trade? The Islanders are, again, desperate for defense and picked up a warm body for very little price. The Oilers got a draft pick for somebody that was not even on their roster a few weeks ago and did not cost anything for them to originally acquire.

MORE: Pro Hockey Talk 2018 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

 

Rangers react to management ‘throwing in the towel’

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Earlier this month, New York Rangers management issued a letter to their fans about the new direction the team would be going in. Instead of pushing for a playoff spot, they decided that it was time to “be focused on adding young, competitive players that combine speed, skill and character. This may mean we lose some familiar faces, guys we all care about and respect. While this is part of the game, it’s never easy.” Basically, they’re rebuilding, re-tooling, or whatever other word you want to use to describe a roster overhaul.

At the time, many, including myself, thought it was very progressive of the Rangers to outline their future plans to their fans. But after spending a few minutes in the locker room on Thursday morning, I’ve changed my mind.

Prior to Thursday’s game against the Canadiens, the Rangers held their morning skate at the Bell Centre in Montreal. After the skate was over, the assembled media was allowed into the room. Mats Zuccarello and David Desharnais were just two of the players made available. After talking to them for a few minutes, you could see how that kind of letter has affected the players in a negative way.

Here’s some of the quotes that stood out:

• Mats Zuccarello on the mood changing in the room:

“I mean, we try to keep it the same, but there’s a lot of thinking about what’s going to happen and stuff. I think that’s normal. No one wants to be in this situation. Sometimes it’s hard, especially when you’re losing and there are a lot of rumors and all that. I think in about six days (after the trade deadline), the mood is going to get a little bit better, hopefully.”

• Zuccarello on his name popping up in rumors:

“I’ve been here for a while and I don’t really know any other organization. It’s hard to sleep sometimes and you think a lot, but at the end of the day it’s part of the game and when you’re not performing at the level the team should be or hoping to be, it’s normal that these questions and all the rumors comes up. You just have to deal with it.”

• David Desharnais on Rangers going in different direction:

“I think they thought we were not as good as they thought we’d be and they’re just going to move in another direction. It’s been a tough couple of weeks, but it’s just part of hockey.

• Desharnais on the letter:

“They told us before (they published it), so it wasn’t a surprise for us, but at the same time it kind of is. It’s like (management is) throwing in the towel. We just have to keep fighting and prove them wrong.”

• Alain Vigneault on how difficult it is to keep team morale up after the letter (quote translated from French to English):

“It’s a situation that’s unusual. When the story first came out in January, we were in a playoff spot. We were the first Wild Card team. When the official announcement came out a few weeks ago, we were only three points out of a playoff spot. So it’s definitely an unusual situation for a team to be in. [Management] asked me what I thought our chances of winning the Stanley Cup were this year, and I said ‘I may not have won with better teams, but I’m convinced we could make the playoffs.’ The first time they asked me, we were sitting in a playoff spot and I’m convinced that we’d still be in a playoff spot. Like I always said, once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen. Just look at Nashville last year, they were the 16th team in the playoffs and they went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Organizations make decisions and there’s no doubt that right now, for everyone in the organization, it’s an unusual situation that’s not easy to manage.”

Later on in the afternoon, the Rangers let it be known that they’d be making forwards Rick Nash and Michael Grabner healthy scratches for the game against the Habs because trades were close to happening. New York then hopped on the ice and was just flat for most of the game. The team eventually shipped Grabner to the New Jersey Devils for a second-rounder and a prospect.

There’s nothing wrong with looking at your team’s chances of winning and deciding to blow it up. The Rangers’ intentions were good. They wanted to keep their fans up to date on what the plan moving forward was going to be, but it seems like they didn’t consider their players when they made that decision.

Yes, most of the players will be on their way out anyway, and yes, no one feels bad for athletes making millions of dollars, but it just doesn’t seem like they treated their players fairly in this case.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.