Ryan O'Reilly

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Sabres’ Thompson to miss 5-6 months after shoulder surgery

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson will miss the remainder of the season after having surgery to repair an injury to his right shoulder.

The Sabres announced Thompson had the operation on Tuesday and will require between five and six months of recovery time. Thompson was initially projected to miss three to five weeks before team doctors determined he required surgery.

The third-year player was hurt in the final minutes of a 4-1 loss at Chicago on Nov. 17. It was Thompson’s first NHL game of the season and came shortly after being promoted from AHL Rochester.

Thompson had seven goals and five assists for 12 points in 65 games with Buffalo last season before being demoted to the minors. The 2016 first-round draft pick was acquired by the Sabres in a multiplayer trade that sent center Ryan O'Reilly to St. Louis in July 2018.

PHT Face-Off: Marino’s rookie season; Vrana’s even-strength prowess

It’s Monday which means it’s time for the weekly PHT Face-off column. We’ll break down five stats/trends around the NHL ahead of a fresh week of action.

Here we go:

• Wild saved by play at home

No one expected the Minnesota Wild to be a playoff team this year. They’re not currently in a playoff spot, but they’re in the conversation. As of right now, they’re seven points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the final Wild Card spot (Minnesota has two games in hand). Even though that’s a steep hill to climb, it’s not an impossible number for them to overcome.

The Wild have been terrible away from home. They’re 9-14-2 on the road and that’s one of the big reasons why they’re not in a postseason spot this year. Thankfully for them, they’ve had to play just two road games since Dec. 21.

The reason they’re still somewhat alive in the playoff race is because they’ve found a way to accumulate points at the XCel Energy Center, where they have an 11-5-4 record. Only three teams in the NHL have fewer than five regulation losses on home ice (Boston, St. Louis and Philadelphia).

“This building has got to be two points for us night in and night out,” forward Eric Staal said after a win at home over the Winnipeg Jets earlier this month, per NHL.com. “Divisional game, important points, we’d like to do it in regulation, but it was a good job fighting with it and getting that game tied up and picking up the two points.”

There’s good news and bad news if you’re a fan of the Wild: The bad news, is that the Wild dropped a 4-1 decision at home to Vancouver last night. They’ve now dropped back-to-back games at home. On the bright side, seven of their next eight and 11 of their next 13 games will be at home.

This next stretch will either make or break their season.

• Keep an eye on Marino

John Marino isn’t going to win the Calder Trophy this year, but his rookie season has exceeded everyone’s expectations. The Pittsburgh Penguins defender has turned into an incredibly importance piece of the pie. Marino has 22 points in 43 games and he’s averaging 20:24 of ice time per game. Since Dec. 30, he’s played at least 21:51 in all but one game.

The 22-year-old was originally drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers. Last summer, the Oilers traded him to Pittsburgh for a sixth-round draft choice. At the time, the Edmonton Journal’s headline read: “Edmonton Oilers trade marginal prospect John Marino for a draft pick.” Yikes.

In fairness to the Oilers, Marino wasn’t going to sign with them (they had his rights until August of 2019). Getting something for him is better than nothing. But you can’t help but feel that had they pushed to give Marino a contract a little earlier, they may have been able to get a deal done. We’ll never know for sure.

What we do know, is that the youngster is turning heads in the NHL right now.

• Vrana killing it at even-strength 

Raise your hand if you thought Capitals forward Jakub Vrana was going to be third in even-strength goals at the midway point of the season. Anybody? Thought so.

Vrana has been a terror for opposing teams at even-strength. The 23-year-old is up to 20 goals in 46 games this season. That currently puts him on pace for a career-high 36 goals. Of those 20 goals, only one has come on the power play. The rest have come at even-strength. That puts him in some elite company.

Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews leads the league with 23 even-strength goals. Sabres captain is second with 20, and Bruins winger David Pastrnak has 19. That’s it. Everyone else in the league has fewer even-strength goals than Vrana.

Alex Ovechkin, who is Vrana’s teammate, has scored 17 of his 26 goals at even-strength. He’s second on the team.

We’ll see whether or not he can keep this up, but it’s already impressive enough that he’s been able to put up these kinds of numbers halfway through a season.

• Perron enjoys winning games

Blues forward David Perron was one of the players voted into the 2020 NHL All-Star game by the fans. Perron may not be the biggest name at the event, but it’s hard to argue with the public’s decision to have him at the All-Star festivities.

The 31-year-old is having an amazing season. He’s picked up 20 goals and 46 points in 46 games this season, which puts him six points clear of Ryan O'Reilly for the lead on the team.

“Well-deserved, and we’re all pretty happy for him, for sure,” Blues head coach Craig Berube said of Perron being voted into the All-Star game, per NHL.com. “It’s a nice thing for him, it really is. It means a lot to him. It means a lot to us. He’s been a real good player for us.”

If you’ve been following the NHL this season, you probably know about the year he’s having. What you might not know about Perron, is that he currently leads the NHL in game-winning goals (he’s scored eight). Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl is right behind him (7), but for now the veteran has the edge in that category.

He’s picked up the game-winning tally in two of his team’s last three games, but he hadn’t had one since Nov. 9.

Perron has also scored a goal in four consecutive games.

What’s coming up this week?
• The Battle of New York twice, Rangers vs. Islanders, Mon. Jan. 13, 7 p.m. ET and Thu. Jan. 16, 7 p.m. ET
Matthew Tkachuk vs. Brady Tkachuk, Sat. Jan. 18, 4 p.m. ET
Max Pacioretty goes back to Montreal, Sat. Jan. 18, 7 p.m. ET
Artemi Panarin revenge game: Blue Jackets vs. Rangers, Sun. Jan. 19, 7 p.m. ET

Wednesday Night Hockey
• Flyers vs. Blues, Wed. Jan. 15, 8 p.m. ET

NHL on NBCSN
• Wild vs. Penguins, Tue. Jan. 14, 7 p.m. ET
• Lightning vs. Wild, Thu. Jan. 16, 8 p.m. ET

NHL on NBC
• Bruins vs. Penguins, Sun. Jan. 19, 12:30 p.m. ET

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.

NHL announces rosters for 2020 All-Star Game

NHL All Star Game Rosters
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The NHL has announced its rosters for the 2020 All-Star Game.

The All-Star weekend will take place in St. Louis on Jan. 24-25. The four captains — as voted by fans — were already announced and include David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins), Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche) and Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers).

Ovechkin already announced that he will not be participating in the All-Star weekend so that he can rest and be ready for the second half of the regular season as well as the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He will sit out one regular season game either immediately before or after the All-Star break.

The host Blues — who are also the defending Stanley Cup champions — have the most representatives in this year’s game as Ryan O'Reilly, Jordan Binnington, and Alex Pietrangelo have all been named to the Central Division roster.

Here are all four rosters.

*Indicates fan voted captain

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division (All-Star Appearance)

F *David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins (2nd)
F Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres(3rd)
F Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings (1st)
F Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers (1st)
F Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (4th)
F Anthony Duclair, Ottawa Senators (1st)
D Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning (2nd)
D Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens (7th)
G Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (2nd)
G Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs (1st)

Metropolitan Division

F Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils (2nd)
F Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders (2nd)
F Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers (1st)
F Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers (1st)
F Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins (1st)
D John Carlson, Washington Capitals (2nd)
D Dougie Hamilton, Carolina Hurricanes (1st)
D Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets (3rd)
G Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals (5th)
G Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets (1st)

[RELATED: Bergeron, Giroux, Toews highlight NHL All-Star Last Men In vote]

Western Conference

Central Division

F *Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche (3rd)
F Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (9th)
F Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars (6th)
F Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild (6th)
F Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets (2nd)
F Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues (3rd)
D Roman Josi, Nashville Predators (3rd)
D Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues (2nd)
G Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (1st)
G Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets (2nd)

Pacific Division

F *Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (4th)
F Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks(1st)
F Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames (1st)
F Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (2nd)
F Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings (5th)
F Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks (2nd)
F Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks (2nd)
D Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames (3rd)
G Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights (5th)
G Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes (1st)

MORE NHL ALL-STAR GAME COVERAGE:
The 2020 NHL All-Star Game captains
Alex Ovechkin will not play in 2020 All-Star Game

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.

Blues keep getting better, extend winning streak to 8 games

Blues
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Exactly one year ago the St. Louis Blues were sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and seemed to be on their way to a lost season. Thanks to the call-up of goalie Jordan Binnington and the changes made by new coach Craig Berube they went on one of the best second half runs in recent NHL history and rode it to their first ever Stanley Cup.

They will not need that sort of second half to make the playoffs this season. They look like one of the league’s best teams — if not the best team — from the very start.

Thanks to their 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, the Blues are just one point back of the Washington Capitals for the top spot in the NHL, have an eight-point lead for the top spot in the Western Conference, and have now won eight games in a row.

It is already their second winning streak of at least seven games this season.

No Tarasenko? No problem

This is probably the most incredible part of the Blues’ run. Tarasenko, their most dynamic and impactful forward from an offensive standpoint, has appeared in just 10 games and has not played since Oct. 24.

All they have done since then is go 21-6-3 in 30 games. That is a 123-point pace over 82 games. And it’s not like 30 games is a small sample size, either. That is nearly half a season that they have played at this level.

Ryan O'Reilly has continued to be a two-way force in the middle, but one of the biggest difference-makers has been veteran winger David Perron. Since re-joining the Blues last year he has played some of the most productive hockey of his career. As of Sunday he is averaging a point-per-game and has a league-leading six game-winning goals, including four in overtime.

The defense and goaltending remains championship caliber

Even with Tarasenko the Blues never were — and never will be — a team that wins with offense.

They are a defense first team, and when combined with quality goaltending are one of the toughest teams in the league to score against. And that is still driving their success this season.

They allow just 51 total shot attempts per 60 minutes, the third best mark in the league behind only Carolina and Pittsburgh. They also have a top-five penalty killing unit.

When you combine all of that with the fact Binnington and Jake Allen have combined for a .924 save percentage and they are allowing just 2.52 goals per game, fourth best in the NHL. They allowed 2.68 goals per game during the regular season a year ago and 2.69 in the playoffs. Yes, they are doing a better job preventing goals this season than they did during their Stanley Cup-winning season.

They could still probably use another scorer up front, but with the way this team is going they not only look like Stanley Cup contenders once again, they seem to keep getting better.

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.

 

PHT Decade in Review: Most significant trades in hockey

As 2019 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at the past decade. We’ll remember the best players and teams, most significant goals, and biggest transactions that have happened since 2010. Let us know your memories in the comments.

Best Hockey Trades

Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen

The Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets each had a glaring need and were able to help each other when Seth Jones and Ryan Johansen were traded for one another. From Columbus’ perspective, Johansen was not a favorite of coach John Tortorella and already had a lengthy contract dispute. Nashville had an abundance of talent on the blueline and needed to find a top line centerman. When a trade of this magnitude happens, one team usually regrets the move but, in this situation, both teams were left quite pleased.

Martin St. Louis for Ryan Callahan

It takes a lot of extenuating circumstances for two teams in the thick of a playoff race to trade their captains, but in 2014, the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning completed the transaction. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman created a dispute with Martin St. Louis when he left the future Hall-Of-Famer off Team Canada’s original roster for the Sochi Olympics. In return, St. Louis requested a trade and the Lightning ended up honoring the request. On the other side, Glen Sather wrapped up contract extensions with Henrik Lundqvist and Dan Girardi but struggled to find common ground with Callahan. Even though the Lightning had very little leverage in the negotiations, Yzerman still found a way to pry two first-round picks from New York in the process. The Rangers went on to lose in the 2014 Cup Final and fell in the 2015 Conference Finals to the Lightning in a seven-game series. Neither team won a championship because of this move, but both clubs settled a problem with this transaction.

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter end up in Los Angeles, Flyers acquire Wayne Simmonds, Bradyen Schenn and Jakub Voracek

A few maneuvers were significant when Los Angeles won two Stanley Cups early in the decade, but the Kings paid a steep price to acquire Mike Richards in June 2011. Coincidentally, another big piece, Jeff Carter, was traded that day to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was eventually sent to Los Angeles at the 2012 trade deadline where he became a key cog for the Kings. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown were already in place, but the acquisition of Richards and Carter were a huge reason why Los Angeles was very successful in the first half of the decade.

On the flip side, the Flyers were looking to change the culture around the club that offseason and landed Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn in the Richards deal, while acquiring Jakub Voracek in the Carter trade. Philadelphia did not win a Stanley Cup, but they were not ripped off in either deal when trading legitimate NHL stars.

Flames send Dougie Hamilton to the Hurricanes in five-player trade

It was a blockbuster trade in June of 2018 that helped both the Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames. Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and Adam Fox were sent to Carolina in exchange for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm. If one was to define a hockey trade, this would be a great place to start.

One sided trades

Bruins ship Tyler Seguin to Dallas

There are always overreactions after losing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but the way the Boston Bruins reacted to losing the 2013 Stanley Cup Final was clearly a mistake. The Bruins front office decided to trade Tyler Seguin, a star in the making, to the Dallas Stars for Loui Eriksson and several other pieces. The Bruins did not make matters worse by handing Eriksson a lucrative contract extension in the summer of 2016, but they did lose a player that averaged 77 points per season since the trade.

Capitals send Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat

George McPhee is most likely still having nightmares about this transaction.

Ben Bishop for Cory Conacher

This deal is easy to judge knowing how each player performed since the trade. However, in April of 2013 the move did make some sense for both teams. The Ottawa Senators had a crowded crease with Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner and Bishop while Conacher was off to a strong start with the Tampa Bay Lightning, recording 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in the first 35 games of the season. The undersized forward instantly became the Senators’ leading scorer upon his arrival but would never become the lethal scorer Ottawa hoped for. On the other hand, Bishop has become a well-rounded NHL goaltender.

Griffin Reinhart to Edmonton

There probably could be a category for several of the moves Peter Chiarelli made but trading two premium draft picks for Griffin Reinhart is at the top of the list. It doesn’t help when one of those picks turned into Mathew Barzal, but the Oilers general manager hoped Reinhart would solve Edmonton’s defensive issues. Former Islanders general manager Garth Snow is probably still confused how he pulled this one off.

Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson

Hall helped the New Jersey Devils return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and captured the 2018 Hart trophy, while Edmonton picked up a middle-pairing defenseman.

Mika Zibanejad for Derick Brassard

Why the Ottawa Senators were interested in trading a young center with Zibanejad’s potential is still a bit mind-boggling. The Swedish forward has turned into one of the more underrated centers in the NHL while Brassard has bounced around the NHL the past couple of seasons.

Brent Burns to the Sharks

The Minnesota Wild received Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round draft pick, but Burns has been one of the most dynamic defensemen in the entire NHL throughout the decade. There are very few assets that could have lived up to the value Burns has provided on the ice.

Franchise Altering Maneuvers

P.K. Subban for Shea Weber

For those who understand the salary cap recapture penalties, the Nashville Predators took a significant gamble when sending Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens for P.K. Subban. If Weber were to retire before his deal runs out, they will be forced to operate with a lot of dead money on their books.

Subban did help the Predators reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 but has since been shipped off to the New Jersey Devils.

Blues acquire Ryan O'Reilly

The 2019 Conn Smythe winner was an integral member of the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup run last season. Doug Armstrong gave up a lot at the time including a top prospect, two premium picks and two roster players, but the Buffalo Sabres miscalculated in their evaluation. Without the the O’Reilly acquisition, the song ‘Gloria’ is probably not a huge hit in the St. Louis area.

Penguins acquire Phil Kessel

It wasn’t always a smooth ride in Pittsburgh, but Kessel averaged 75 points per season and played a major part in back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships.

TJ Oshie to the Capitals

The Washington Capitals have been one of the most successful teams over the last decade but didn’t get over the hump until the spring of 2018. T.J. Oshie was not the main piece during the championship run, but he has provided secondary scoring and strong two-way play since his acquisition in the summer of 2015.

MORE PHT DECADE IN REVIEW FUN:
• Top NHL players in fantasy hockey
• Most significant goals
• Best players of the decade
• Favorite goals, best/worst jerseys
Best NHL teams of the decade

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