P.K. Subban

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PHT Morning Skate: Next step for NHL players

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.

• NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly outlines the next steps in the short-term for NHL players. (TSN)

• The funeral for Montreal Canadiens legend Henri Richard will be closed to the public. (Montreal Canadiens)

• If the NHL follows the NBA’s lead do not expect to see hockey until at least mid-April. (The Hockey News)

• NHL players, coaches coping with uncertainty of coronavirus. (NHL)

• Devils’ P.K. Subban on suspension of season: “There are bigger things going on now.” (NJ.com)

• Ken King’s dedication was driving force behind Flames. (Sportsnet)

• NHL Playoffs … March Madness style. (Scotty Wazz)

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.

NHL GMs propose small change to offside rule that could save big headaches

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The NHL’s GMs reportedly proposed a subtle but potentially headache-preventing change to the offside rule during recent meetings.

The amended rule would parallel “breaking the plane” in football.

NHL Network’s EJ Hradek summarizes the minor-yet-potentially-helpful tweek pretty well:

Note that this proposal needs to go through a few layers before the change is complete. It needs to be approved by the NHL’s Board of Governors and Competition Committee for this tweak to happen.

“When we met with our breakout group [Monday], the group thought that it was tough watching a game, especially with our skilled players, when we see a nice goal being scored and there’s a delay and there’s a challenge and we’re taking down good hockey goals because the guy’s toe is slightly off the ice or he’s in a crossing over motion where the majority of his body is still in the neutral zone but his skate is not touching the ice,” NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Kris King said via NHL.com. “They felt a lot of times the guy that is offside isn’t even involved in the rush. They just felt the skate in the air really didn’t have a lot of bearing on any of these goals.”

NHL.com’s Dan Rosen shared some interesting numbers:

The NHL reported that 18 coach’s challenges through 1,015 games played this season have been for skate in the air plays, and of those 14 led to goals being removed. There were 26 skate in the air challenges through 1,015 games last season leading to 16 goals removed.

Chances are, there will still be plenty of instances of eye-roll-worthy reviews, as offside vs. onside could still be up to plenty of debate. Even so, any tweak that might not force officials and telecasts to study small differences with Zapruder-film rewinds would be good for our collective mental health.

Er, although, fans griping about how goals A-Z should have counted (and so on) might destroy any would-be regained mental health so … *sigh* what can you do?

NHL GMs discussed a tweak like this in late March 2017, but it didn’t get off the ground/break the plane.

That point is a reminder that, much like offside reviews, these processes can often feel a little marginal. Giving a little more leeway for players to avoid going offside feels like it would be more in the “spirit of the rule,” but baby steps are better than no steps at all.

We’ll see if this small change to the offside rule makes it to fruition, and that the NHL continues to find ways to simplify its rules.

Some controversies over the years, whether this will address them all, or not:

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.

The Buzzer: Toffoli, others hot after NHL trade deadline

Toffoli hot after NHL trade deadline the buzzer
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Three Stars

1. Anton Khudobin/Roope Hintz, Dallas Stars

With a plethora of games on Tuesday’s dockets, let’s consolidate some of the stars picks as combos.

Khudobin generated 40 saves, only allowing one goal against Carolina. People made plenty of jokes about the Hurricanes actually needing to bring in David Ayers on Tuesday. After all, Alex Nedeljkovic allowed four goals on just 16 shots. It’s easy to overlook the difference Khudobin made in that game where there was a towering 40-16 SOG disadvantage. (The Hurricanes’ long tradition of dominating puck control while being let down by goaltending happened again. The Stars, meanwhile, subsist on their goaltending.)

Hintz provided a strong night of work in his own right, scoring a goal and two assists. Hintz scored the game-winning goal, and both of his assists were primary helpers.

2. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers

Florida left many — myself included — puzzled by trading away Vincent Trocheck for a questionable return. Maybe the Panthers will benefit from a post-trade deadline bump from Bobrovsky much like Columbus did after they decided not to trade him in 2018-19?

It’s way too early to confirm or deny that. Either way, he enjoyed a strong Tuesday, stopping 37 out of 38 SOG. Both the Panthers and the Coyotes needed Tuesday’s game, but Bob made the difference.

Speaking of sticking with players despite the temptation of getting something for a pending UFA, Mike Hoffman contributed to Florida’s two goals with a goal and an assist.

3. Kevin Hayes/Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers

Leafing through the options for third star was especially tough. Matthew Tkachuk, for instance, scored three points (1G, 2A) winning a battle of the pests with Brad Marchand.

An even tougher omission: the combination of Zach Sanford (2G, 1A) and Robert Thomas (1G, 2A) for the Blues. Sanford scored the GWG, and fired nine SOG. He made the difference in St. Louis squeaking by Chicago.

In this case, let’s direct you to this post, where the Blues got some attention.

Hayes (2G, 1A) also scored the game-winner for his team, while Konecny generated a goal and two assists. Both Flyers forwards generated +3 ratings apiece. Are their strong nights better than the comparable evenings for Sanford and Thomas? Your guess is a good, if not better, than mine.

Highlights of the Night

Marchand scored an impressive goal, showing his calm and skill. Then he turned on the menace in staring down Mikael Backlund, which really brought this clip up a notch:

William Nylander added to the bucket of cool between-the-legs goals in helping Toronto beat Tampa Bay. If forced to choose one video for highlight of the night, it would probably be this:

Not sure if this is a highlight of the night in the traditional sense. Regardless, this is just one big, entertaining mess between Tyler Bertuzzi and P.K. Subban. And maybe the officials?

Factoids

  • The Rangers set a franchise record with eight consecutive road wins by beating the Islanders in OT. Mika Zibanejad is on his own eight-game point streak, collecting a whopping 14 points during that span, including Tuesday’s empathic game-winner. (NHL PR)
  • The Stars have an eight-game road point streak of their own. (NHL PR)
  • The Flames beat the Bruins handily. Continuing with the theme of road warriors, Calgary’s 15-4-1 road record since Nov. 23 leads the NHL during that span. (Sportsnet Stats)
  • Tyler Toffoli keeps bridging a hot end to his Kings’ days with a hot start with the Canucks following his deadline trade. By scoring Vancouver’s OT winner, he extended his current point streak to five games (7G, 2A). Looking specifically at his time with the Canucks, Toffoli has three goals and two assists for five points in three contests.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins improved to an impressive 29 points in his last 21 games. (Sportsnet Stats)
  • Quinn Hughes became the first rookie to reach 50 points this season … not too shabby for a defenseman. He’s six points shy of the Canucks rookie defenseman scoring record. Hughes and Nicklas Lidstrom (1992) are the only two defensemen to reach 50 points before any other rookie during their respective first seasons. (NHL PR)
  • Jean-Gabriel Pageau didn’t win the game for the Islanders. He did make a heck of an impression during his Islanders debut following their big trade deadline investment, though. (OK, this is more of an opinion-oid, but go with it.)

Scores

CGY 5 – BOS 2
VAN 4 – MTL 3 (OT)
TOR 4 – TBL 3
NYR 4 – NYI 3 (OT)
PHI 4 – SJS 2
WSH 4 – WIN 3 (SO)
DAL 4 – CAR 1
NJD 4 – DET 1
STL 6 – CHI 5
NSH 3 – OTT 2
MIN 5 – CBJ 4
FLA 2 – ARI 1
ANA 4 – EDM 3 (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.

Canadiens’ Shea Weber sidelined 4-6 weeks with ankle sprain

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Following a report on Wednesday that the future of Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber could be in doubt, the team issued an update announcing that the defenseman will be sidelined for the next four-to-six weeks due to an ankle sprain.

Weber has missed the team’s past three games and it was already announced that he would miss the next two games this week in Boston (Wednesday) and Pittsburgh (Saturday).

Earlier on Wednesday a report from Nick Kypreos said Weber’s season could be over and that his future is in doubt due a foot injury that was related to the one that required surgery in 2018. The Canadiens issued a brief statement following that report and simply said they will be able to provide an update by the end of the week and will have no further comment at the present time.

Not even two hours later, they issued their most recent update on Weber’s status.

So while this news is more promising than the initial report, it is still not exactly good.

Weber was having a great season for the Canadiens and is still their best, most impactful defenseman. They do not have anyone that can replace him now or in the immediate future. When healthy, he has still been an outstanding player in Montreal but injuries have severely limited him since arriving via trade prior to the 2016-17 season, having already missed 87 games (and now counting) since then.

Weber is still signed for six more seasons at an annual salary cap hit of $7.857 million dollars.

Because of that, the Nashville Predators also have to always be watching his health and career closely. In the (unlikely) event that Weber decides to retire before his contract expires, they would be on the hook for a massive cap recapture penalty that could significantly impact their roster. That decision is still probably quite a ways off (and Weber simply going on LTIR so he can continue to be paid is a far more likely outcome than an official retirement in the event that he could no longer play) but it is still something that could be a factor in the future.

The Predators traded Weber to Montreal in a one-for-one deal involving P.K. Subban.

In the short-term, though, this would situation would seem to put a pretty significant dent in the Canadiens’ already fading playoff chances. Despite a 9-4-0 record since January 10, the Canadiens enter Wednesday’s game against Boston eight points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Related: How quickly can Canadiens turn things around?

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.

 

NHL Trade Deadline primer: Alec Martinez, Los Angeles Kings

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(UPDATE: Martinez has been traded to the Golden Knights.)

With the NHL trade deadline getting close (February 24, 3 p.m. ET) the Pro Hockey Talk crew will be taking a closer look at some individual players that could be on the move. Today we focus on Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez.

Player: Alec Martinez
Current team: Los Angeles Kings
Position: Defense
Contract Situation: Signed through the end of the 2020-21 season at a salary cap hit of $4 million per season.

Why the Kings might trade him: Quite honestly it would make almost zero sense for the Kings to not trade him this seasonHe still has one more year remaining on his contract so there isn’t as much pressure to move him as, say, teammate Tyler Toffoli, but this is absolutely the time for the Kings to maximize their return for him. They are completely out of the Western Conference playoff race and are probably a couple of years away from being a playoff team again, and at that point Martinez won’t be a part of the team anyway. If he is, he will be a fraction of the player he is now. The player he is now is only a fraction of the player he was a couple of years ago. His trade value is only going to go down from here.

Teams that could/should be interested: Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs (maybe?), Florida Panthers, Vegas Golden Knights, Columbus Blue Jackets

What he provides: At his peak Martinez was a really good No. 2 or 3 defenseman that could provide some solid offense from the blue line (especially given the system he played in) and play a sound defensive game. Not a superstar by any means, but a good player that could be a key cog in a championship defense.

He is not quite that player anymore.

He is 32 years old, his offensive production has completely dried up and even his defensive game has regressed a bit the past two seasons.

Here is where Martinez ranks among the 178 defenders that have logged at least 500 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey this season in a number of defensive measures (via Natural Stat Trick):

Total shot attempts against per 60 minutes: 117th
Scoring chances against per 60 minutes: 118th
Expected goals against per 60 minutes: 104th

Those put him in the bottom half of the league.

Will a change of scenery help and a better supporting cast help?

The Carolina Hurricanes are in the market for a defenseman with Dougie Hamilton out for what could be most (if not all) of the remaining season. The Pittsburgh Penguins are currently without Brian Dumoulin and John Marino — their two best defensive players — and could use a short-term stop-gap. They do not have much flexibility beyond this season, however, given the long-term commitments they have on defense and their salary cap situation. The Maple Leafs need defense both short-term and long-term (Tyson Barrie and Jake Muzzin are both unrestricted free agents after this season) but I don’t know that Martinez is the solution to either problem. They acquired Muzzin from the Kings under almost identical circumstances at this time a year ago. Vegas and Florida have obvious needs on defense, but salary cap space is an issue for both and there would either need to be salary retained or salary moving back the other direction. Columbus could also be a sleeper destination if the injury to Seth Jones is serious enough.

Predicted Destination: Nashville makes sense for something along the lines of a second, future fourth-round pick, and maybe a fringe prospect. Even with all of their struggles this season the Predators are still very much alive in the playoff race and still control their own path. They also have more than enough salary cap space to add him and have five draft picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 draft. Their defense, once a major strength, has taken a hit this season with the departure of P.K. Subban and injury to Ryan Ellis. Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, and Ellis is still a very formidable top-three when are all healthy, and Dante Fabbro is an intriguing young player, but there is a pretty big gap in talent once you get beyond that group.

More NHL Trade Deadline:
• Trade Deadline primer: Chris Kreider
Trade Deadline primer: Tyler Toffoli
Trade Deadline Primer: Ilya Kovalchuk
Teams that need to be active at trade deadline

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.