Say What?!? - May 14
Say What?!? - May 14
"I've been having a lot of sleepless nights. I wasn't there for my team when they needed it."
- Vancouver's Ryan Kesler.
"I've been having a lot of sleepless nights. I wasn't there for my team when they needed it."
- Vancouver's Ryan Kesler.
The Dec. 1 RFA deadline is a little more than a month away. Jacob Trouba remains unsigned and wants a trade. What happens if Winnipeg's slow start continues?
The Anaheim Ducks finally ended their contract squabble with restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm Thursday, locking him up for six years and $31.5 million. The minute the transaction became official, you could just feel the hockey community's collective neck craning toward the Winnipeg Jets and blueliner Jacob Trouba's camp. You're up, fellas.
Like Lindholm, Trouba was having trouble agreeing on money. Like Lindholm, Trouba is a restricted free agent. Like Lindholm, Trouba was chosen in the first round of the 2012 draft and has a promising career ahead of him. The similarities end there, however. The negotiations between Trouba and the Jets became far more contentions than we saw with Lindholm. Trouba isn't happy with his usage on the team, and the two sides were struggling to agree on term. He and agent Kurt Overhardt requested a trade in late September. So while the Ducks always had hope to resolve their Lindholm situation, it's all but assured Jacob Trouba plays his next NHL game with a new club.
The question is: when will that be? Will it be in 2016-17 or 2017-18? If Trouba hasn't inked a new deal by Dec. 1, he's ineligible to play in the NHL this season. He'll have to just keep pumping iron back home in Michigan or try his hand in Europe for half a year if he wants to get some game reps in.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has offers on the table. Teams reportedly linked to Trouba trade talks include the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, just to name a few. But Cheveldayoff has been publicly adamant about not rushing things. First off, the trade isn't the easiest to pull off given how much money Trouba wants. Reports of the official asking price have varied, but it's safe to say Trouba expects to at least land in the Lindholm/Seth Jones/Morgan Rielly/Rasmus Ristolainen range with a cap hit north of $5 million should Trouba ink a long-term contract. It's debatable whether Trouba has earned that kind of term and money, but we know his camp believes he deserves it, especially when it feels his conservative usage by coach Paul Maurice suppressed Trouba's numbers. That means the team landing Trouba must possess a solid chunk of cap space. Still, much tougher contracts have been moved. David Clarkson got moved. A desirable young player like Trouba? Piece of cake. Plenty of teams likely have a solution. Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers clog Winnipeg's depth chart with expensive top-four righty shooters, so Cheveldayoff wants a left-handed defenseman of equal value to Trouba as an ideal return. A player of that caliber would likely carry a decent price tag, liberating the trading team of enough cap space to fit Trouba in.
Still, Cheveldayoff doesn't want to rush a deal. But how long can he maintain that position? His Jets have a ton of potential in the Central Division this season. Mark Scheifele has carried last season's sizzling finish into 2016-17. He's a bona fide stud first-line center. Patrik Laine has justified his status as the 2016 draft's No. 2 overall pick, showing an Alex Ovechkin-like release. The Jets have speed to burn with the likes of Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers up front, too. But not everything has gone their way. It seemed waiving Ondrej Pavelec finally freed up a superior goaltending tandem of Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson. It's very early, but both stoppers have struggled so far, combining for an .883 save percentage. Center Bryan Little's lower-body injury creates an irreplaceable depth chart hole, too. This team has started a disappointing 2-4-0, and that mark could easily be 1-5-0 if not for a miraculous comeback from a 4-0 third-period deficit versus Toronto last week. The Jets' health woes – Drew Stafford joins Little on the shelf for Thursday's game – threaten to dig them a deeper standings hole going forward.
Most of all, the Jets need, well, Trouba, or Cheveldayoff's desired Trouba equivalent. They aren't the same defensively without him. They rank 27th in goals-against average at 3.67, they're killing penalties at an ugly 72.7 percent clip. They've been average in shots allowed and Corsi Against, so a lot of their problems can be blamed on goaltending, but part of the Jets' woes has been allowing too many grade-A chances. Our in-house analytics writer and general whiz kid Dom Luszczyszyn crunched the league-wide 5-on-5 numbers for high-danger scoring chances so far in 2016-17, and the Jets allow 8.0 per 60 minutes, the eighth-most in the NHL. Last season with Trouba in the lineup: 6.8 per 60. So they're allowing at least one extra high-quality chance per contest. The sample size is obviously tiny, but that makes it no less true that (a) they are allowing more high-danger chances than they did last year so far and (b) Jacob Trouba is missing from the lineup. A circumstantial argument for his importance? Maybe. But no one can deny the Jets badly need him or his analog.
So while it's probable the Jets never get Trouba back, Cheveldayoff might feel some heat to trade Trouba for help sooner rather than later. No team can sleep in the mighty Central. If 2-4-0 becomes 2-6-0 or 4-8-0, will the Jets have to buck up and take the best Trouba offer on the table? Crazy as it sounds, it may be worth losing a couple games early if that expedites a Trouba trade and prevents losses in bigger bunches later this season.
Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to thn.com. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin
For the second time in one calendar year, Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen has been kicked out of a faceoff and handed an unsportsmanlike penalty for voicing his displeasure.
Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen was reminded Wednesday night that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And the reminder came in most bizarre fashion.
Johansen, 24, was lined up for a neutral zone faceoff just outside the Nashville zone during the Predators’ tilt against the Anaheim Ducks. Standing across from Antoine Vermette, Johansen seemingly pointed out to linesman Shandor Alphonso how the Ducks’ pivot was set up off center. Instead of Vermette moving, Johansen shifted away from the faceoff dot to mimic Vermette and it appeared that Alphonso didn’t take too kindly to Johansen’s actions, booting him from the dot.
After his ejection from the faceoff, Johansen set up on the wing, but his objections apparently didn’t end once he was lined up in the spot previously occupied by James Neal. Instead of dropping the puck, Alphonso turned around to address Johansen, which resulted in referee Kelly Sutherland getting involved and eventually led to Johansen taking a seat in the penalty box:
The call on the ice was unsportsmanlike conduct, though it will probably never be known exactly what went on between Johansen and Alphonso before the minor penalty was handed out by Sutherland. However, Johansen paid the price with more than just penalty minutes.
It didn’t help matters that Anaheim almost immediately rubbed salt in the wound by way of a Jakob Silfverberg power play goal a mere 10 seconds after Johansen took the penalty, but by the time the Predators center got back to the bench, he didn’t see another second of ice time until the start of the third frame. That’s a half-period benching for taking a bad penalty.
Incredibly, though, this isn’t the first time Johansen has found himself in this situation. During a game midway through the 2015-16 season against the Winnipeg Jets, Johansen was hit with an unsportsmanlike call for getting angry with a linesman for failing to drop the puck during a faceoff.
“The linesman’s job on a faceoff is to drop the puck,” Johansen said at the time, via the Tennessean’s Adam Vingan. “I didn’t say anything to hurt his feelings. I actually wish I said something else. I don’t want to get in trouble for saying anything. It’s a tough play. We’ve got our empty net, one-goal game late in the game like that, it’s pretty wild to get a penalty for getting mad at him for just not dropping the puck.”
But after getting tagged a second time for faceoff frustrations, don’t be surprised if Johansen is physically holding his tongue next time around.
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The Canadiens lost Carey Price to a severe case of the flu, but they didn't miss a beat with newly signed backup Al Montoya.
They have the best winning percentage, the best goals differential and are the only team in the NHL that has yet to endure a loss in regulation. And they have the league’s best goalie in
Al Montoya Carey Price. So it’s no wonder the Montreal Canadiens are at the top of thn.com’s first Power Rankings of this season.
Remember, folks, these are Power Rankings, not NHL standings. They reflect how the team has performed most recently and are measured in order of the team that an opponent would least like to face if it played that night. So if you’re team is low in our rankings, remember it’s because we hate your team, and probably you and your family as well.
THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Montreal Canadiens
2. Edmonton Oilers
3. Detroit Red Wings
4. New York Rangers
5. St. Louis Blues
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
7. Florida Panthers
8. New York Islanders
9. Pittsburgh Penguins
10. Washington Capitals
Shea Weber was supposed to represent the panacea for Montreal’s power play, but it sits 20th in the league going into tonight’s game against Philadelphia, where they’ll try Alexander Radulov alongside Weber on the point…Since Cam Talbot’s wife gave birth to twins last Wednesday, Talbot is 3-0-0 with just three goals against on 99 shots…After posting a career-low 43 points last season, Gustav Nyquist has 3-4-7 totals in his first five games…After all the talk of resting Henrik Lundqvist more this season, The Rangers played him in back-to-back games over the weekend, the second one against the worst team in the NHL…The way Nail Yakupov has thrived on the Blues’ third line, his trade from Edmonton could develop into a major steal…Not sure how many noticed, but ESPN ranked the Lightning as the No. 1…The 4-1 win over Ottawa Saturday night kicked off a six-game, 11-day road trip for the Lightning…Tough not to cheer for 27-year-old rookie Shane Harper, who had never played an NHL game before this season, but made the Panthers’ fourth-line and scored twice in Florida’s 5-2 win over Colorado Saturday…Islanders captain John Tavares said he thinks it wears him and his teammates out more talking about the bad ice at Barclays Center than playing on it. Pretty sure that’s not the case…After taking part in his first full-contact practice since suffering a pre-season concussion, Sidney Crosby has not been ruled out yet for Tuesday night’s game against Florida…Going into a four-game road trip through western Canada, Capitals coach Barry Trotz shuffled his top two lines, moving Andre Burakovsky to the top line and T.J. Oshie down to the second.
THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Anaheim Ducks
12. Los Angeles Kings
13. Vancouver Canucks
14. Minnesota Wild
15. Boston Bruins
16. Colorado Avalanche
17. Chicago Blackhawks
18. Columbus Blue Jackets
19. Ottawa Senators
20. Nashville Predators
Simon Despres and his concussion have been placed on long-term injury reserve, which could give the Ducks the room they need to sign Hampus Lindholm…Thank goodness for 34-year-old Peter Budaj. He’s the only healthy goalie in the Kings organization at the moment with NHL experience…As much as people seem to want to pigeonhole Bo Horvat as a third-line center, his all-round game and offensive production this year suggest otherwise…Zach Parise scored his 300th and 301st NHL goals on Saturday and needs only 40 more to pass Dave Christian for first on the all-time list among Minnesota-born players…The Bruins have yet to score the first goal of the game in any of their five games this season…The Avalanche are in the midst of a six-day break. John Mitchell is expected to be in the lineup for the first time this season Friday night against Winnipeg…Speaking of season debuts, veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival will play his first game of the season tonight against Calgary after sitting out the first six games as a healthy scratch…The Blue Jackets rallied with big wins over NHL powers after losing their first two games. A big reason for that has been the penalty kill unit, which has allowed only one goal on 11 shorthanded situations, and that was an empty-net goal…The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Senators can score plenty, but have allowed at least four goals in four of their first five games this season...Despite an attack of food poisoning, the Predators managed to beat Pittsburgh 5-1 on the weekend. Their power play is by far the best in the league.
VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. San Jose Sharks
22. Philadelphia Flyers
23. Dallas Stars
24. New Jersey Devils
25. Toronto Maple Leafs
26. Buffalo Sabres
27. Winnipeg Jets
28. Carolina Hurricanes
29. Calgary Flames
30. Arizona Coyotes
The Sharks went 2-for-18 on the power play on their recent five-game road trip, but they still managed to pick up two wins…League menace Radko Gudas will be eligible to return from his six-game suspension Tuesday night against Buffalo…Ales Hemsky reinjured his groin Saturday and will miss Tuesday night’s game against Winnipeg, as will Jason Spezza, who tweaked something in practice Monday…Same old Devils? New Jersey hasn’t scored more than two goals in any of its first five games this season. And that includes two overtimes...The Maple Leafs 5-4 shootout loss to Chicago Saturday marked the fourth time in five games the young Leafs have gagged up a lead late in the third period…Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen doesn’t appear to have been hurt by missing training camp with a contract dispute. He has an assist on each of Buffalo’s four power-play goals this season…This could be a lot worse. The Jets’ only two wins this season have come back when they roared back from three-goal deficits in the third period…The Hurricanes may have to finish their season-opening six-game road trip Tuesday night in Detroit without Jeff Skinner, who wasn’t on the ice for practice Monday…The Flames are porous. They’ve given up at least four goals in four of their first six games and at least five in three of them…The Coyotes are 0-4-0 on their eastern road trip, which still has stops in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton popped up earlier this week in the NHL rumor mill, but a more likely trade candidate is Dennis Wideman.
Calgary Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton popped up earlier this week in the NHL rumor mill. TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports there's talk the 23-year-old blueliner could be available.
LeBrun said he doesn't think the Flames are shopping Hamilton. While at least one team inquired into the defenseman's availability, LeBrun said talks didn't get far.
The Flames acquired Hamilton from the Boston Bruins prior to the 2015 NHL draft, re-signing him to a six-year, $34.5-million contract. Since joining the Flames, his performance at times was inconsistent. However, they appear committed to keeping him on their blueline.
A more likely Flames trade candidate is veteran defenseman Dennis Wideman. The 33-year-old is eligible for unrestricted free agency next July and doesn't have a long-term future in Calgary. He has a full no-movement clause, but the Flames could ask him to waive it if they're out of playoff contention by the March 1 trade deadline.
WITH LINDHOLM SIGNED, WHAT HAPPENS TO FOWLER?
Prior to the Anaheim Ducks re-signing defenseman Hampus Lindholm, there was a report linking him to a deal with the Colorado Avalanche and captain Gabriel Landeskog. As noted by Chris Nichols of Today's Slapshot, TSN's Darren Dreger said the Ducks and Avalanche had a conversation involving the two players, though Ducks GM Bob Murray wanted nothing to do with trading the 22-year-old blueliner.
With Lindholm finally under contract, any talk of swapping him for Landekog is put to rest. However, this isn't the first time Dreger's mentioned Landeskog as a possible trade candidate this year. On June 30, he reported the Ducks and Avs had discussed a Landeskog-for-Lindholm swap.
Landeskog surfaced again in the rumor mill later in the summer. On July 30, Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Sun included the 23-year-old left winger among five players the Canucks should pursue in the off-season.
So far, however, there's no indication out of Denver the Avs are willing to put their captain on the trade block. He's in the third season of a seven-year, $39-million contract and his $5.5-million cap hit isn't easy to move, especially this early in the season.
Landeskog's no-trade clause doesn't kick in until 2018-19, so he can be dealt anywhere this season without his permission. His performance through 2016-17, and that of the Avs, could determine if he becomes a trade chip.
It'll be interesting to see if the Lindholm signing puts an end to the Cam Fowler trade rumors that were flying around since late-June.
The Ducks freed up some cap space for Lindholm's new contract by placing concussed defenseman Simon Despres and his $3.7-million annual cap hit on long-term injury reserve. However, they must find cap room for Despres when he's ready to return to the lineup.
Throughout the off-season and into October, trade chatter linked the 24-year-old Fowler ($4 million cap hit) to the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings. That talk could be muted for now, but will likely flare up again when Despres is ready to return to the lineup.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.