The NHL has news flying around faster than cupid’s arrow this week.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators pull off a blockbuster trade, Toronto’s Nazim Kadri found himself in hot water, the New Jersey Devils honored the greatest goaltender (statistically) of all time, the New York Rangers were dealt a blow with an injury to their captain, a member of the Philadelphia Flyers finally breaks through on the score sheet, the Columbus Blue Jackets ink one of their blueliners to a new deal, and the Boston Bruins had another scare with another one of their goaltenders.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators pulled off a blockbuster trade involving 9 members of their respective clubs. Toronto sent defenseman (and former team captain) Dion Phaneuf, Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, Ryan Rupert, and Cody Donaghey to Ottawa in exchange for Jared Cowen, Colin Greening, Milan Michalek, and a second-round pick in the 2017 draft. Neither team will retain salaries of the players traded, and was a move to help both teams shore up their line ups for the long-term. According to Toronto general manager Lou Lamoriello, this trade “was a transaction that certainly wasn’t for today”. Senators general manager Bryan Murray echoed this statement by saying,” We don’t expect him (Phaneuf) to come in here to be a savior.”
Staying in the province of Ontario, the Maple Leafs also found themselves in a bit of some controversy before the trade. Nazem Kadri was fined $5,000 (U.S.) for making a throat slashing gesture at the Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano. Kadri took exception to the fact Giordano hit him hard, and there wasn’t a call on the play.
Shifting over to the Metropolitan, the New Jersey Devils honored the NHL’s most winningest goaltender of all time on Tuesday. Martin Brodeur, who holds the NHL record for wins with 691, and shutouts with 125, had his familiar number 30 raised to the rafters at Prudential Center. Just one day prior, he was honored with a 11 foot statue of him saluting the crowd, which will also now reside in the Prudential Center.
Staying in the Metropolitan, the New York Rangers have lost their captain Ryan McDonagh for an unknown period of time. McDonagh sustained a concussion after the Philadelphia Flyers Wayne Simmonds punched him in the head in frustration during the Flyers 3-2 loss to the Rangers. Simmonds was ejected from the game for intent to injure, but no further supplemental action will be taken against him.
On the subject of the Flyers, despite the controversy surrounding Wayne Simmonds, the team as a couple of bright spots to be proud of. Center R.J. Umberger snapped a goaless streak that spanned a little over a calendar year. The last time Umberger scored was back on January 28,2015. Umberger on his goal, “I’ve had slumps in my career, but that was a different animal.”
While Umberger found his scoring touch, the Columbus Blue Jackets have found their touch on the blueline. The team announced Thursday that they have re-signed defenseman Ryan Murray for an additional 2 years. Murray, who has 17 points in 55 games this year for the Blue Jackets, will help strengthen the team going into next season.
Lastly, one would think it would be a scary time to be in between the pipes in Boston these days. As reported a few weeks ago, goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was out due to an irregular heartbeat. As a result, the team recalled Malcolm Subban to provide backup to Tuukka Rask. Now, it’s Subban’s turn to spend some time on the injured reserve. Subban suffered a fractured larynx while participating in team warm-ups when a teammate shot the puck at him. Subban will be out for at least 8 weeks while he recovers. Subban had posted a 14-8-5 record with a 2.46 goals against average with a .911 save percentage in 27 games for the Bruins’ minor league affiliate in Providence.
Western Conference Recap:
Let’s begin with some big news out of the Windy City this week. The Chicago Blackhawks will host the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center. The 2017 NHL Draft will be held on June 23-24. Surprisingly, Chicago has never hosted the NHL Draft before.
The Blackhawks have not been good at home this week. They were shut out by the San Jose Sharks 2-0 on Tuesday, and followed it up with a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday. The Blackhawks have been without the services of rookie sensation Artemi Panarin this week, as he has come down with some sort of illness. The Blackhawks are hopeful that Panarin will be able to return to the lineup on Saturday when they host the Anaheim Ducks.
The Vancouver Canucks suffered some big injuries earlier this week. Defenseman Alex Edler and forward Brandon Sutter will both be out of action for the next 6-8 weeks. Edler suffered a fractured fibula, and Sutter suffered a fractured jaw. Both injuries happened in the Canucks game against Colorado back on Tuesday. Sutter just recently returned to the Canucks lineup from a sports hernia injury, which he missed several months of action.
Keeping with the Canucks, they have a couple of names that have been floated around as possible Trade Deadline rentals. Forward Radim Vrbata and defenseman Dan Hamhuis are both unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Both guys would be hot commodities for any Cup contending team. While both players would help any Cup favorite, the Canucks are still sitting only a couple of points out of a playoff spot. Will Canucks General Manager Jim Benning keep both guys and take the gamble that the Canucks make the playoffs? The Canucks have some interesting decisions to make within the next couple of weeks.
The Edmonton Oilers lit the lamp and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Thursday night. Rookie Connor McDavid had a 5-point night, and Jordan Eberle had a hat trick. It is safe to say that Connor McDavid has not missed a beat since his clavicle injury and the Oilers are his team moving forward.
The Calgary Flames have had a very strange week. On Tuesday against Toronto, they scratched top forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Lance Bouma for disciplinary reasons. They reportedly arrived late to the arena for practice on Monday. Despite the scratches of their best players, the Flames ended up beating the Leafs 4-3.
Fast forward to Thursday night, the Flames had a wild game with the San Jose Sharks. The Flames beat the Sharks 6-5 in the shootout, but Flames goaltender Karri Ramo ended up suffering a leg injury late in the 3rd period. Jonas Hiller came in very cold, and ended up sealing the win for the Flames. Ramo has officially been placed on IR and the injury does not appear to be good. The Flames recalled goaltender Joni Ortio from the AHL on Friday.
Some good news out of St. Louis – rumors are swirling of a possible Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in the near future. The Blues opponent would most likely be the Chicago Blackhawks. This is a great move for the NHL for giving a non-traditional hockey market a chance to host one of their outdoor games. The Blues and Blackhawks have an intense rivalry, so that will make the outdoor game even more exciting.
Andrea Sobolik: Eastern Conference
George Foussekis: Western Conferenced