2017 NHL Entry Draft

The Wraparound: Caufield, Suzuki boost Canadiens with scoring, swagger

The Wraparound: Caufield, Suzuki boost Canadiens with scoring, swagger
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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

Being that the Vegas Golden Knights are somehow still just in their fourth season of NHL existence, you’d think they would be the team with younger legs. But, nope, not really. The Golden Knights became competitive in a hurry, which eventually meant building through trades and free agency, rather than the NHL Draft.

Sometimes that even meant sacrificing first-round picks and prospects.

And, in a cruel twist of fate that also feels extremely hockey, one of those prospects is burning them. While the Golden Knights seem like they need to sell a soul for each goal, the Canadiens occasionally make it look easy — especially when Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield are doing the damage.

In case you needed a reminder that Suzuki was one of the Golden Knights’ initial first-round draft picks, well …

2017 NHL Draft - Round One
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

… That image has to burn a Golden Knights fan or two.


Looking at the numbers alone, you can tell that Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield aren’t shrinking from the moment. Suzuki’s generated 13 points in 16 games, including five (1G, 4A) in his last three contests vs. the Golden Knights. Caufield has eight points in his first 14 playoff games, including five through the first five games of the Golden Knights – Canadiens series.

Frankly, with Caufield, the real key might have been getting the Canadiens to trust him enough to be unleashed. Take it from, uh, NFL superstar J.J. Watt?

Caufield is 20, and Suzuki is just 21. When you consider how the Canadiens landed both, it makes it easier to understand why Marc Bergevin might be GM of the Year material.

(Even if he landed the two quite a while ago. Hey, it’s as much a career-related award as it is one for the 2020-21 NHL season. Right? Kinda?)

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 schedule, TV info]

As much as the numbers make your eyes pop — the scoring, doing so at such young ages — it’s the way that Caufield and Suzuki get there that makes them that much more endearing. Under the right spotlight, perhaps if the Canadiens eliminate the Golden Knights in Game 6 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; USA Network / Peacock), it could raise their stature as rising stars.

They’re already supplementing that steak with the sizzle of “bulletin board material.”

Following Game 4, Robin Lehner shed unusual light on his thought process, explaining how he prepared for a Cole Caufield breakaway chance. In response, Caufield said he was glad Lehner “opened his mouth.” We didn’t get to see the immediate response since the Golden Knights started Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5, but maybe that will be continued in Game 6?

Either way, it cemented the thought that Suzuki and Caufield are bringing beyond-their-years swagger to the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

At times, the Canadiens are locking down the Golden Knights to the point that Vegas looks a little tight, and quite frustrated.

How annoying must it be, then, to see these two young scorers counterpunch so effectively? And with the swagger of someone with little to lose? (Or, at least, without registering the pressure of the moment.)

It all translates to a Canadiens duo that’s fun to watch — except, maybe, if you’re rooting for the Golden Knights.


Game 6: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (MTL leads 3-2) – USA Network / Peacock (livestream)


Game 7: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (Series tied 3-3) – NBCSN / Peacock (livestream)

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.

NCAA leading scorer Dugan agrees to join Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS — NCAA leading scorer Jack Dugan agreed Monday to turn pro and join the Vegas Golden Knights.

Dugan was a fifth-round pick of the Golden Knights during their first draft in 2017. Because of his age, his NHL entry-level contract beginning next season would be for two years.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound forward from Pittsburgh had 10 goals and 42 assists for 52 points during his sophomore season at Providence College. Dugan was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the nation’s top college player.

”We are pleased to have the opportunity to continue to play a key role in the development of Jack Dugan as both a hockey player and as a young man within our organization,” Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. ”Jack took significant steps in his growth over the past two seasons as one of the best all-around players in college hockey and has proven that he is ready for the next challenge in his young career.”

Dugan, 21, led the NCAA this season with 1.53 points a game, 1.24 assists a game, 22 power-play points and 30 even-strength points.

”Thankful for these past two years at Providence,” Dugan tweeted. ”I couldn’t be more grateful for this next opportunity and excited to get going with Vegas whenever that may be.”

Lias Andersson reportedly asks Rangers for trade

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New York Rangers prospect Lias Andersson, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 draft, has reportedly asked the team for a trade.

That is according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, who also adds that Andersson is no longer with the team and that general manager Jeff Gorton will use the holiday trade freeze to assess the market for the 21-year-old forward.

It will be interesting to see what that market looks like.

Andersson’s development has been a pretty big point of discussion among the Rangers’ fan base. The Rangers drafted Andersson with the pick acquired in the blockbuster trade that sent Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes. The Rangers also received defenseman Tony DeAngelo in that deal.

Both players figured to be key parts of the Rangers’ rebuild, but Andersson has not developed as anyone had hoped. How that happened is where the issue comes in for the Rangers. On one hand, he has not been given a consistent look in the NHL or significant ice time. As true as that is, he has also struggled stand out and force his way in the lineup.

In 66 NHL games with the Rangers he has three goals and nine total points over parts of three seasons. That includes zero goals and one assist in 17 games this season. His AHL numbers are slightly better during his career, scoring 15 goals and 34 points in 74 games.

Given the way his development has played out the Rangers should not expect a significant return should they choose to honor the request and trade him. It would, however, be a pretty good opportunity for another team to take a low-risk gamble and hope they can catch lightning in a bottle. Maybe a fresh start in a new organization helps. He is still only 21 years old, and even though he was considered a bit of an overdraft at the time he is still only a couple of years removed from being a top-10 pick. Someone is going to see some potential there and think they can make it work. You have to think the usual suspects — talent starved or rebuilding teams — would have at least some interest. Teams like Ottawa, Edmonton, Los Angeles, or Detroit would all immediately come to mind.


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.

Flyers’ Patrick confident of returning to play this season

“If they’d gone away, I’d be playing.”

Nolan Patrick has yet to play a game for the Philadelphia Flyers this season due to a chronic migraine disorder. While he’s skated on his own for a while, he hasn’t taken part in a full practice in over a month and there’s still no timeline on a return.

With four months left in the 2019-20 regular season, the No. 2 overall pick from the 2017 NHL Draft isn’t giving up hope.

“I expect to play this year,” Patrick said Tuesday morning.

“He is progressing, he is doing more off-ice workouts and he is skating a little bit more on his own,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “Hopefully that’s a positive sign. That’s all I can really tell you. I don’t know much more than that.”

It’s not been easy for the 21-year-old forward as there are good days and bad days. There’s a lot of time by himself, but Patrick said his teammates have done a great job in making him feel a part of the team this season. He’s has been on a specific training program and he can get in the gym on a daily basis, but the recovery hasn’t gone smooth.

“If I’m not feeling that great that day we’ll just pump the brakes a little bit,” said Patrick. “It’s just trying to put together more good days in a row than bad. I’m not gonna go too much into my symptoms or what I have but it’s obviously frustrating. It’s not an injury where you’re going to be back in six weeks. There’s no timeframe to it. Obviously I’m hoping to get back soon and I believe I’ll play this year so that’s something I’m trying to stick with.”

As he’s been able to get on the ice, like Tuesday’s optional skate at Wells Fargo Center that featured the scratches for their game against the Maple Leafs, the next goal for Patrick to achieve is to take part in a full practice.

“Obviously I’m not gonna go into too much detail but there’s obviously a lot of things I’ve had to change,” Patrick said. “It’s an annoying process. It’s s—–. Hopefully I get back soon.”


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.

Devils, Hischier agree to seven-year, $50.75 million extension

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While the Devils don’t know yet if Taylor Hall will sign an extension to remain in New Jersey or find a new home next summer in free agency, GM Ray Shero has young locked down one of the team’s core pieces.

On Friday, Nico Hischier agreed to a seven-year, $50.75 million extension that carries a $7.25 million cap hit through the 2026-27 NHL season. The deal buys three unrestricted free agent years since the Devils forward has been playing since he was 18, per Cap Friendly.

“Nico is a special person who possess a team-first mentality combined with an inner drive to succeed,” said Shero in a statement. The entire organization is thankful to him and his family for believing in our future. We are excited that he will continue to play a prominent role with us for many years to come.”

According to the Devils, here’s the year-by-year breakdown:

2020-21: $7,000,000 (includes $3 million signing bonus)
2021-22: $7,250,000
2022-23:  $4,500,000
2023-24:  $7,750,000
2024-25:  $7,750,000
2025-26:  $8,000,000
2026-27:  $8,500,000

The extension also features a modified no-trade clause in the final three years.

In 157 NHL games, Hischier, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, has 37 goals and 101 points while averaging over 17 minutes a night. His offense has been just fine with a 20 and 17 goals in his first two seasons, but his two-way game is what’s really boosted his talent.

The 20-year-old center joins the list of NHLers who passed on restricted free agency in 2020 to put pen to paper on a new deal, joining the likes of Alex DeBrincat, Clayton Keller, Thomas Chabot, and Sam Girard.

Mathew Barzal, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Dylan Strome, and Mikhail Sergachev are some of the other potential 2020 RFAs who will be looking for extensions before next season.


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.