Trading Ryans: Rangers get Strome, Oilers nab Spooner

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Perhaps mid-November is the time for lateral trades and troubling injuries?

Oilers fans probably tense up whenever their team makes a trade, yet this one is more of a shoulder shrug than a forehead-slapper: Edmonton receives Ryan Spooner, while the New York Rangers get Ryan Strome.

(Hey, stop yawning.)

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Rangers retained $900K of Spooner’s salary (for each of the next seasons) to make the trade work; each forward now carries a $3.1 million cap hit in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

You really need to crane your neck to see the differences between Strome, 25, and Spooner, 26. Reactions have gone both ways as far as which team “won” the trade, as you might expect from a move that more or less merely shakes things up.

Plenty of people are, instead, merely enjoying just how negligible the difference is between the two forwards:

… Or using this as another opportunity to ridicule bumbling Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, who acquired Strome in that ill-fated Jordan Eberle trade before the 2017-18 season.

As PHT’s Adam Gretz notes, this trade is mainly a reminder of past mistakes:

Chiarelli drafted Spooner during his days with the Boston Bruins, so that likely explains why he targeted the forward.

At least, that explains it beyond making a trade for the sake of making a trade.

While I’d argue that the Penguins edged the Kings by landing Tanner Pearson for Carl Hagelin, it’s most likely to be a small victory. The difference, on paper, might be even less obvious here, unless a change of scenery truly sparks one or the other. Strome’s possession stats have been better and their production has been comparable over the years. Maybe Spooner could find chemistry with Connor McDavid in a way that would allow Leon Draisaitl to play on his own line? From here, this is a marginal trade, but there’s always a chance it might be a little more fruitful than expected.

If nothing else, it could serve as a wakeup call. That sure beats the Oilers’ unfortunate tradition of trades being a kick in the gut.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Kuhnhackl scores weird, wild goal against Canucks

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Tom Kuhnhackl doesn’t find himself on the scoresheet very often.

Entering play on Tuesday night he had one goal in six games this season, only three in his past 75 games dating back to last season, and only 12 in 174 career games.

In any given season he might give you five goals.

At this point in his career he is what he is: A fourth-liner that eats up some minutes at the bottom of the lineup and kills penalties by wildly throwing his body in front of slap shots with little to no regard for his own well being. He showed enough doing that over the first three years of his career to get a one-year contract from the New York Islanders over the summer.

In the first period of their game against the Vancouver Canucks he netted his second goal of the season, and it might be one of the weirdest goals we see all year.

It was beautiful, and at the same time, incredibly ugly.

Beautiful in the sense that he even managed to get the puck on net as he fell to the ice, ended up on his back, and facing away from the net.

Ugly in the sense that Canucks goalie Jakob Markstrom should never give up a goal on this shot.

I hate it when people say “[insert random NHL goalie here] would love to have that goal back,” because goalies are competitive people and never think they should give up a goal and would like to have all of them back … but maybe it would be in Markstrom’s best interest to just stop thinking about that goal and its very existence. Just pretend it never happened.

Just 44 seconds later the Islanders took the lead on a Josh Bailey goal and then extended their lead later in the period thanks to Jordan Eberle.

For as good as the Canucks have been so far this season their goaltending has not been good. That was obviously on display here.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

How Islanders have jumped to top of Metropolitan Division

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After they lost John Tavares in free agency, the New York Islanders kind of became an afterthought ahead of the 2018-19 season. No one expected them to be competitive this season. No one. The season is still young, but the fact that they’re in the top spot in the Metropolitan Division is remarkable, but how have they been able to pull this off?

First, the impact their goaltenders have had on the team can’t be ignored. Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner have exceeded expectations in every way. The goalies are a big reason why the Islanders have been able to rattle off five wins in a row over division rivals like the Penguins (twice), the Flyers, the ‘Canes and Devils. Greiss has accumulated three of the five victories, while Lehner has been between the pipes for two of them. Neither one of them has allowed more than two goals in any of the last five games. That’s terrific.

Can both guys keep this up? Can the Islanders keep this going? Last week, PHT’s Adam Gretz broke down whether or not you should buy the Islanders’ fast start.

The other reason they’ve had so much success is because of the amount of balanced scoring they’ve received. Over the last five contests, Brock Nelson (four goals) Anders Lee (three), Jordan Eberle (three), Josh Bailey, Ryan Pulock, Andrew Ladd, Anthony Beauvillier, Tom Kuhnhackl, Leo Komarov, Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech and Matt Martin all found the back of the net. That’s 12 different scorers over five games. That’s really impressive.

“I have the same mindset as the team right now,” Bailey said, per NHL.com. “I just turn the page after each game and get ready for the next one. When you get on these streaks as a team, and individually, you want to ride them for as long as you can but it’s about staying [on an] even keel, not thinking too much about it and preparing the same way you do every game.”

They’ve done all of this with a struggling Mathew Barzal. Not only has Barzal not picked up a goal in 11 consecutive games, he’s also been held point-less in three of the five games during this current winning streak.

Whether or not this group of players is good enough to keep this up remains to be seen. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond to their upcoming schedule, as they’ll play tough games against the Canadiens and Lightning this week, before closing out their quick two-game Florida trip with a game against the Panthers on Saturday night.

“When you get the results you’re looking for it adds to that confidence, and I think our staff does a great job preparing us,” added Bailey. “I think there’s a belief within our group that we can win every night, and we take the same approach every game. We’ll turn the page after this one and get ready for the next one.”

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.

The Buzzer: Point’s five-point night; Hutton’s thievery

Associated Press
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Three Stars

1. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning

A career-high five-point night and a dominant 8-3 win for his Lightning… we think Point will be more than happy with how things turned out. Point put the Lightning up 3-1 in the first period and assisted on four other goals in the game. Point now leads the Lightning with seven goals and 14 points in 11 games — three more than Nikita Kucherov and six more than Steven Stamkos.

2. Ryan Hartman, Nashville Predators

Hartman’s first 21 games with the Preds last season was lackluster at best. His playoffs weren’t that stellar either, not what you’d want from a guy you spent a first-round pick to get. Through 12 games now in his first full season with Nashville, Hartman seems to be hitting his stride.  The 24-year-old scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in a 4-1 win for the Predators on Tuesday. He now has six points in those 12 games, matching the total he had in 21 with Nashville last season.

3. Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders

Eberle scored twice in 1:53 in the second period, including the game-winner, as the Islanders doubled up the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3. The Islanders have been a thorn in the side of Metropolitan rivals as of late, winning three straight and outscoring them 14-5 during that time. Eberle has four points in his past four games, including three goals.

Highlights of the night

Paddle saves are the best saves

The John Tortorella silent treatment

You can’t defend against this:

The best move/save combination of the night belongs to Viktor Arvidsson and Malcolm Subban:

Blunder of the night

No debate here:

Factoids

Scores

Flames 2, Sabres 1 (OT)

Islanders 6, Penguins 3

Bruins 3, Hurricanes 2

Red Wings 5, Blue Jackets 3

Stars 4, Canadiens 1

Lightning 8, Devils 3

Predators 4, Golden Knights 1

Wild 4, Oilers 3

Flyers 3, Ducks 2

Coyotes 5, Senators 1

Rangers 4, Sharks 3 (SO)

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: Bo knows goals

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Three Stars

1. Bo Horvat

The Canucks were down … just about all their noteworthy players against the Golden Knights in Vegas, but Bo Horvat made it happen in a resilient shootout win. Horvat scored two goals on three shots on goal, delivered four hits, blocked a shot, and dominated in the faceoff circle (15-7).

About the only complaint you can make is that Horvat was unable to score during the shootout, yet the Canucks won anyway.

Horvat’s strong night stood out because, despite the stray nice game (Aleksander Barkov collected two assists in Florida’s comeback win), Wednesday was a great night for goalies.

2. Frederik Andersen

OK, the Maple Leafs goalie wasn’t without a blemish. He allowed two goals during Winnipeg’s 22-shot third period as the Jets tried to get back into a game.

Andersen was pretty fantastic overall, though, stopping 38 out of 40 SOG. The Jets have a potent offense, something you could see on the two goals that ended up beating Andersen. It’s tough to really put those tallies on Andersen’s shoulders.

Similarly, Jacob Markstrom allowed two goals in an overall impressive win, making 33 saves. Andersen gets the edge from both quantity and quality perspectives.

3. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Unlike Andersen, Andrei didn’t allow a goal … I mean, unless you ding him for the would-be Gabriel Landeskog goal that was negated by an offside call via a coach’s challenge.

The box score says he was perfect, though, as Vasilevskiy pitched a 22-save shutout.

The relatively light night of work makes Vasilevskiy’s shutout a little less impressive, although it doesn’t hurt his cause that four of those SOG came from Nathan MacKinnon, and seven overall were produced by Colorado’s deadly top trio.

(Perfectionists might place Vasilevskiy at second or first. To each their own.)

Highlights of the Night

What a thing of beauty: all five members of the Islanders power play touched the puck on Jordan Eberle‘s first goal of 2018-19. Maybe this will light a fire under the winger, who’s just begun a contract year?

Horvat’s second goal of the evening (also his second in a 64-second span) was quite pretty:

Factoids

  • Horvat’s Canucks now lead the Pacific Division with 12 points in 10 games. Seriously.

The margin is small, mind you, but Vancouver is alone in the lead following Wednesday’s games.

  • Yes, Kasperi Kapanen is off to a strong start this season. No, he hasn’t really done this before at the NHL level.

  • Bold prediction: Vasilevskiy will own the Lightning’s goalie records.

Scores

Panthers 3, Islanders 2 (OT)
Maple Leafs 4, Jets 2
Lightning 1, Avalanche 0
Canucks 3, Golden Knights 2 (SO)

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.