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PHT Morning Skate: Renaming Conn Smythe Trophy; Binnington’s success

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.

• It took Jordan Binnington a while to get to the NHL, but now that he’s here he’s making the most of it. (NHL.com)

• Larry Brooks argues that the NHLPA should re-name the Conn Smyth Trophy after Red Wings legend Ted Lindsay. (New York Post)

• Can a regular guy stop a 98 mph slapper? A GQ staffer tried to and he chronicled the whole the thing. (GQ)

• The proposed renovations for PNC Arena in Carolina could cost $200 million. (News & Observer)

• J.T. Brown surprised a black girl hockey club by donating $3,000 to their GoFundMe page. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

• Take an in-depth look at which teams have scoring depth and which teams don’t with the Win Column’s point share shells. (The Win Column)

• The people in charge of women’s hockey have to sort through their mess at this important time. (Sportsnet)

• Now that Michigan’s season is over, Quinn Hughes has signed his ELC with the Vancouver Canucks. [Canucks]

• Michael Leighton made his 500th appearance in the AHL. (The AHL)

Jesperi Kotkaniemi‘s defensive game hasn’t slipped as much as some people have suggested. (TSN)

• Les Canadiennes advanced to the Clarkson Cup Final by beating the Markham Thunder. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)

• The Predators made a great decision by keeping Dante Fabbro in their farm system. (Predlines)

Ryan McDonagh was named to the Minnesota state hockey tournament’s 75th anniversary team. (Tampa Bay Times)

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: Lightning host Kings on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Monday’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Tampa leads the NHL with 47 wins and 98 points this season. Nikita Kucherov leads the NHL with 100 points (T-career high, set last year) and a career-high 70 assists. Both the Lightning and Kucherov are on historic paces this season

TB is the first team in NHL history to win at least 47 of its first 62 games of a season. They are looking to win their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy this season. The last team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and win the Stanley Cup was the Blackhawks in 2013, and before that was the Detroit Red Wings in 2008

Kucherov is on pace to hit 92 assists and 132 points this season. The last player with 90-plus assists was Joe Thornton in 2006-07 (92). Kucherov would become the first player with 130+ points since 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux (161 points) and Jaromir Jagr (149 points) both did so. 

The Kings are on a seven-game losing streak (0-5-2) and sit in last place in the Western Conference with 52 points. They are having problems in all areas of the game right now – offense defense, the power play and penalty kill

Simply put, the Kings have struggled to score this year. They rank 30th in the NHL averaging 2.34 goals/game. In a season where around half the league is scoring three or more goals per game, it’s no shock that the Kings sit in the basement of the Western Conference.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Los Angeles Kings at Tampa Bay Lightning
Where: Amalie Arena
When: Monday, Feb. 25, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Kings-Lightning stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

KINGS
Alex IafalloAnze KopitarDustin Brown
Ilya KovalchukJeff CarterTyler Toffoli
Brendan LeipsicAdrian Kempe – Jonny Brodzinski
Kyle CliffordTrevor LewisAustin Wagner

Derek ForbortDrew Doughty
Dion PhaneufMatt Roy
Paul LaDueSean Walker

Starting goalie: Jack Campbell

LIGHTNING
Ondrej PalatSteven StamkosJ.T. Miller
Tyler JohnsonBrayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Alex KillornAnthony CirelliYanni Gourde
Adam ErneCedric Paquette – Mathieu Joseph

Victor HedmanDan Girardi
Ryan McDonaghErik Cernak
Braydon CoburnAnton Stralman

Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Rick Peckham (play-by-play) and Jim Fox (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones.

NHL on NBCSN: Bolts look to extend win streak to nine against Kings

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Monday’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

These two teams couldn’t be heading in more opposite directions. The Bolts are the best team in the league, while the Kings are the worst team in the West.

The Lightning have an opportunity to rattle off their ninth consecutive win tonight. During this winning streak, they’ve scored five goals or more in six games and they’ve given up one goal or fewer in four of their last five. They haven’t dropped a game in regulation all month (their last regulation loss came on Jan. 30).

They’re a machine.

If you try to focus on stopping Brayden Point‘s line which has NHL scoring leader Nikita Kucherov on it (easier said than done, by the way), they can come after you with Steven Stamkos‘ line. They’re also stacked on the blue line with guys like Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev and veterans like Braydon Coburn, Anton Stralman and Dan Girardi.

On top of all that, they have one of the best goalies in the game in Andrei Vasilevskiy. So when the Bolts come out of the game slow like they did against the Columbus Blue Jackets last week, they have a goalie that can bail them out of trouble until they wake up.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

“Fans the last six years have been pretty fortunate to first get to enjoy Ben Bishop and how he helped our franchise, and then to see Vasilevskiy,” Jon Cooper said. “Vasy’s taken the baton and kept it going. It’s great watching Vasy come into his own in this league at such a young age (24). I couldn’t be happier for him.”

As for the Kings, they come into tonight’s game having dropped four in a row in regulation and seven in a row overall. They haven’t won a game in regulation since Feb. 5.

“It’s embarrassing,” Drew Doughty said after Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. “It’s the fact that we’re not playing with any pride. We have a chance to come back in the third period. We got four … shots on net. In a third period where, we’re supposed to absolutely blow everything on the table offensively, and we get four shots on net, and they score two goals. The fact that we’re not playing with pride and we’re not working for each other, that’s the scary part about what’s going on right now.”

There’s several issues in Los Angeles right now, but scoring has to be considered the biggest one. As of right now, the Kings have scored just 145 goals in 61 games. Only the Anaheim Ducks have scored fewer times in 2018-19.

The Kings have been out of the playoff race for a while, so they’ve traded away some of their older players, including Jake Muzzin, Nate Thompson and Carl Hagelin.

“We’re all real people, right? It’s going to wear on you when the team’s not doing well and there’s changes being made,” forward Jeff Carter said. “It’s just the reality of it. But when you step on the ice, you’ve got to play hockey, too. We’ve got to show up. You’ve got to do your job. Myself included, it’s been a struggle.”

Rick Peckham (play-by-play) and Jim Fox (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones.

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.

Trade: Rangers’ sell-off continues as Kevin Hayes heads to Jets

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Kevin Hayes wanted to stay, but the state of the New York Rangers prevented that from being a reality as the trade deadline approached.

After sitting out the Rangers’ two games over the weekend, Hayes is now on the move to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a lottery-protected 2019 first-round pick (becomes a 2020 first if in the top three), a conditional 2022 pick (fourth-rounder if Winnipeg wins the Stanley Cup) and forward Brendan Lemieux.

“I pretty much knew I was being traded about a week ago. When I stopped playing games, it was pretty clear,” Hayes told TSN Monday morning.

The 26-year-old Hayes has 14 goals and 42 points in 51 games this season. He can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Hayes and the Rangers did have contract talks during the season, but clearly negotiations went nowhere. Term was a big issue, and maybe a reunion can be explored in the summer.

[Winners and losers of the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline]

“It definitely felt like every hour I was going somewhere new,” Hayes said. “I probably talked to my agent 25 times in the past two days and it was somewhere new every time. Glad to finally have it over with and excited to be going to an unreal team like Winnipeg.”

Hayes is cousins with former NHLer Keith Tkachuk, so that explains this 2014 Instagram post of a younger Hayes in a Jets 1.0 jersey.

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#tbt to the best jerseys in the league. #Winnipeg

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The Jets get some help up front. As they look to get Patrik Laine going offensively, Hayes can be an addition to the second line that aids in that department. He’s been a strong driver of possession, and a play-maker with 28 assists, something that Winnipeg could use at the moment to get out of their funk.

“I don’t want to say exactly where I’m going to play, but I’m going to play with some good wingers who can score some goals,” Hayes said on a conference call with reporters. “I’m a pass first type of player and I’m excited to play with some goal scorers.”

This is now two years in a row Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has gone out and grabbed a rental forward following the Paul Stastny acquisition at last season’s deadline. Now with Hayes in the fold, they are more than likely out on Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators considering the price that he will probably fetch.

Hayes moves on two days after Mats Zuccarello was dealt to the Dallas Stars. This trade gives New York two first-round picks in the upcoming draft and potentially four depending on conditions on selections acquired in the Zuccarello deal and last year’s Ryan McDonagh/J.T. Miller trade.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

What should Lightning add before deadline?

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There’s no such thing as a perfect team in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are as close as it gets. The Bolts are blessed with names like Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman, Andrei Vasilevskiy and many others. So, what should the top team in the NHL add before the February 25th trade deadline?

Before we start throwing names around, it’s important to realize that the Lightning currently have their own first-round draft pick in 2019, but they can’t use it as a trade chip. As part of last year’s deadline-day deal with the New York Rangers that involved McDonagh and J.T. Miller, Tampa sent a conditional second-rounder in 2019 that could become a first-rounder if they win the Stanley Cup. Basically, the Lightning have to hold on to their first pick in case it needs to go to the Rangers this summer. Any trade involving the Lightning will not involve their first or second round picks.

Let’s start with the defense.

The Bolts have Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh as their top two defenders on the left side. That’s not too shabby. On the right side, they’re rolling with Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman. Sure, they could make a deal with a team like Carolina for Dougie Hamilton or Brett Pesce, but that will certainly cost them a quality forward that’s already on their roster. That’s unlikely.

So, instead, they could opt to use a mid-round pick to land themselves a veteran that could step into the lineup in case of injury. Erik Cernak and Jan Rutta are the depth right-handed defensemen on the team right now, but neither one has much experience in the postseason.

It’s possible that Julien BriseBois could opt for a veteran like Ben Lovejoy, who’s on an expiring contract in New Jersey. The 34-year-old has playoff experience (he’s suited up in 63 postseason games and he won a Cup with the Penguins) and they can let him walk after the season when they’ll need the money to pay someone else. Adam McQauid could be an option here, too.

Red Wings blueliner Nick Jensen doesn’t have any playoff experience, but he could also fit the bill as an option for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 28-year-old will also be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018-19 campaign. With the Wings out of the playoff picture, they could just decide to accumulate an additional asset for a free agent.

So a right-handed defenseman could be an option.

How about another depth center, too?

Sticking with this Red Wings theme. How about Luke Glendening? Tampa’s division rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs, have already been linked to the speedy center, so why not add a good piece and prevent a team you might meet in the playoffs from getting better?

Glendening has two years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $1.8 million. That’s a digestible number. Depending on what you’d be sending to Detroit in the trade, they might even be willing to eat some of the money left on his deal.

If they’re looking to upgrade the fourth line without being tied down by term, Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger could be an interesting target. He’s in the final year of his contract.

The one thing you notice when looking at Tampa’s roster is that they don’t have to make a big splash to be considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. This is a really good team that has the ability to go all the way. Making a small tweak here or there could be enough. After all, they have a 13-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets, who are the second best team in the NHL right now.

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.