I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Some good Islanders news: Thomas Greiss signs three-year, $10M extension

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On a night where people once again wonder about the New York Islanders’ arena situation, some clarity came in net.

The team signed Thomas Greiss to a three-year contract extension on Monday. Reporters including Newsday’s Arthur Staple peg the deal as $10 million over three years, or $3.33 million per season.

That’s a nice bargain for the Islanders, while Greiss gets some cherished security. Greiss, 31, has been one of the best goaltending bargains in the NHL, carrying just a $1.5 million cap hit this season.

He’s put together excellent work with a career .919 save percentage, and things have only improved since he joined the Islanders. He went 23-11-4 with a strong .925 save percentage in 2015-16 and has been even better this season, managing a fantastic .928 save percentage over 25 games.

Greiss’ brilliant work has gone under the radar a bit thanks to the messes on and off the ice in Brooklyn, yet his strong work isn’t lost on management.

Kings place Greene on IR; could this mean Toffoli’s nearing a return?


It’s strange to wonder if a player being placed on IR is a good sign, but that might just be the case with the Los Angeles Kings.

The bad news is that defenseman Matt Greene was placed on injured reserve on Monday. He hasn’t played since Jan. 16, so it’s probably not too much of a surprise.

The positive side is that it could be a signal that someone else might be nearing a return. Could underrated winger Tyler Toffoli be ready (or almost ready) to return to the fold?

Toffoli, 24, has been sidelined since Dec. 20. He brings a two-way game that the Kings badly need as they try to scratch and claw for a playoff spot.

The Kings play five of their next six games on the road, so getting Toffoli back soon (maybe he’ll just play one of this week’s upcoming back-to-back set on Tuesday/Wednesday?) could be significant.

Report: Barclays Center may kick Islanders out of Brooklyn after 2018-19


At times, it’s felt like the New York Islanders and Barclays Center have been going through a messy, public divorce. Perhaps it will all come down to “who dumps who,” then?

Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick reports that the Barclays Center is likely to “dump” the Islanders after the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, reasoning that the venue would make more money from concerts.

It’s important to note that none of this is official by any means, but here are some key details from Soshnick:

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns the building and the Nets, has since November been seeking an investor to take a stake in both. As of earlier this month, a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season — a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said.

It’s worth noting that the Islanders can terminate their lease after 2017-18 while Barclays does have the option to do so after 2018-19.

For Islanders fans hoping for a return to their own stomping grounds, the Bloomberg report ends with a punch to the gut: “They have shown no interest in returning to Long Island.”

Reports point out that Gary Bettman hinted at possible issues for the Islanders during the All-Star weekend:

Again, do note that Barclays reps haven’t come out and said this will happen. It’s also worth realizing that the Islanders have been going through a tough season, likely exasperating attendance concerns (thus making other events that much more desirable).

That said, with all the headaches about sight lines, difficult commutes for fans and ice quality in mind, it’s often been a miserable setup for both sides.

It’s increasingly plausible that this relationship will end, with bigger questions about when and where the Islanders might ultimately end up.

Barkov, Huberdeau in practice (even no-contact) welcome sight for Panthers


As much as some want to hand the Florida Panthers a failing grade during a season of what’s believed to be a serious push toward analytics, injury concerns may justify a mark of “Incomplete.”

They’ve been without key players for huge chunks of 2016-17, most notably Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov. (Nick Bjugstad missed a considerable amount of time, as well.)

While the cranky among us might wonder if this will ultimately be “too little, too late,” the Panthers got a welcome sight as Huberdeau and Barkov practiced on Monday, albeit in yellow no-contact jerseys.

Their reactions were very positive to Jameson Olive of the team’s website, too.

“I feel like I’m pretty close,” Huberdeau said.

Barkov, meanwhile, feels better every day and hopes to play soon.

Then again, it might be wise to keep optimism in check.

Huberdeau, 23, hasn’t played a single game this season after setting career-highs for goals (20) and points (59) in 2015-16. Barkov, 21, has 27 points in 36 games but hasn’t suited up in 2017.

The Panthers would need to make quite the push to rally into the playoffs this season. Such a thought seems at least a bit more reasonable if those key young scorers can get back into the lineup in the near future.

Flyers rise, Leafs fall, Islanders lurk on busy night in East playoff races


On a busy night for the Eastern Conference’s bubble teams, the Philadelphia Flyers probably ended up being the biggest winners.*

Let’s try to sort things out lightning-round style, then we’ll take a look at where the most relevant East bubble teams stand.

  • The Philadelphia Flyers grabbed their third straight win, and it was a significant one, edging the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. The Flyers move ahead of the Leafs and other teams for the second wild card spot in the East, although Philly’s edge on Toronto looks a lot shakier when you factor in games in hand (more on that in a moment). Still, it was a big win for the Flyers.
  • The Maple Leafs really might be the biggest losers of the night, at least among teams whose chances seem most realistic right now. The Ottawa Senators lost, but they lost in overtime (3-2 to the Calgary Flames), so they have a three-point edge on the Maple Leafs. The Boston Bruins won a hectic 4-3 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins to move one point ahead of Toronto … but again, for now. The games in hand things is going to come up again.
  • The Florida Panthers managed to get the extra point against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 2-1 overtime win. The Cats aren’t in a position of strength, yet they can’t be discounted altogether, either.
  • The New York Islanders continue to rise in the East, gaining another win against an opponent in “contender” position. Andrew Ladd (yes, Ladd) scored two goals as the Isles beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1, giving the Islanders a six-game point streak. They still need to make up some ground, yet they’re a reminder of how much of a difference a surge can make. Even with the Habs hobbling a bit lately, that’s impressive stuff.

Phew, that’s a lot to digest, right?

Well, this might make things a little easier to follow. Let’s break things down by way of the Atlantic Division races and also the bubble races overall.

Races for the last two spots in the Atlantic

2. Senators – 58 points in 47 games
3. Bruins – 56 points in 52 GP

Maple Leafs – 55 points in 47 GP
Panthers – 52 points in 50 GP

As you can see, the Bruins lead the Maple Leafs for that third spot … but that’s a huge chunk of games for Toronto to make up ground (at least in an era rife with three-point games). Boston might end up being more concerned about the East bubble races, then, so that’s a good excuse to look at that situation.

Wild card

1. Rangers – 63 points in 49 GP
2. Flyers – 56 points in 50 GP

Maple Leafs – 55 points in 47 GP
Panthers – 52 points in 50 GP
Islanders – 51 points in 47 GP
Lightning – 50 in 50
Sabres – 49 in 47
Hurricanes – 49 in 48
Red Wings – 49 in 49
Devils 49 in 50

With the Rangers likely out of reach, the Maple Leafs (and maybe the other somewhat-close Atlantic teams) must eye teams like the Flyers, Senators and Bruins instead. Games in hand make things interesting, particularly if you’re an Islanders fan dreaming of big gains or a Leafs fan being quite realistically optimistic.

If Thursday is any indication, there’s a lot of room for movement in these races for East playoff spots.

* – The Washington Capitals are probably the biggest winners of all in the East if not the NHL, as they continued their pattern of bullying teams by beating the New Jersey Devils 5-2.