Just days before the NHL trade deadline, many teams are entering the fray to make those last few roster moves for the final push for the playoffs. Florida, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia are just a few of the teams making some changes with personnel on the ice. Finally, the New York Rangers lose a legendary member of their organization.
Starting with the Atlantic division, the Florida Panthers have bolstered their roster with a few acquisitions, but also have seen one of the best players go down with an injury this week, and also celebrated a milestone. The Panthers have picked up Jiri Hudler from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2016 second round pick and a 2018 fourth round pick. The team also has picked up Teddy Purcell from the Edmonton Oilers for a 2016 third round pick. Lastly, Jakub Kindl has made his way to Miami from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a 2017 sixth round draft pick.
As the Panthers continue to wheel and deal, the team also announced that left winger Jonathan Huberdeau on injured reserve with an upper body injury. This occured after being shoved from behind by the Winnipeg Jets Jacob Trouba, and colliding into the boards. Itt is unknown when Huberdeau will return.
Lastly, the Florida Panthers also celebrated a major milestone with one of their own last week. Right winger Jaromir Jagr continued to cement his place in hockey history by scoring his 743rd career goal, bypassing Brett Hull for third all-time in NHL history.
Yet again, as the Panthers continue to be on the prowl, the Montreal Canadiens season continues to spiral even further downward, the team decided to make a couple of changes to their roster, to help stop the bleeding so to speak. As a result, Montreal has traded Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann for Phillip Danault and a 2018 second round draft pick from the Chicago Blackhawks.
However, this is not all that the Canadiens are dealing with this week. The team also announced they will be without the services of defenseman Tom Gilbert due to knee surgery. Gilbert was injured in the team’s 3-2 win last Friday in Philadelphia, and will be out for the rest of the season.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, another blueliner goes down in Jeff Petry. Petry will also miss the rest of the season due to hernia surgery. Petry was injured back on February 7, but the team had him listed day to day and continued to practice.
The defenseman injury trifecta is complete with Nathan Beaulieu going on the IR with a what the team is calling a lower body injury. Beaulieu appeared to have injured his knee after crashing into a goalpost in the team’s 2-1 loss Monday night against the Nashville Predators.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the team is also recovering from a public relations snafu as well. The team wanted to thank their fans for hitting one million followers on Twitter by using #CanadiensMTL1M. However, the team did not take into consideration that some of the accounts that they auto-tweeted to were fake accounts with racially insensitive and had profane content. The team issued the following statement regarding this debacle, “We executed the campaign using a third-party provider, Flowics, as suggested to us by Twitter Canada. The company has had previous success running similar campaigns for other sports brands. Unfortunately, due to human error on the part of the third-party provider, the profanity filter was not activated when setting up the campaign and a handful of offensive and inappropriate Twitter handles and tweets were not flagged and properly blocked. Once the error was discovered, the campaign was immediately suspended and the offensive tweets were manually deleted.”
With all these injuries and blunders there is one bright spot for the Canadiens this week. Paul Byron has agreed to a three-year extension that will keep him with the club until the 2018-2019 season, worth a total of $3.5 million (US).
As Montreal has been an absolute soap opera with injuries, and botched social media campaigns, their rival the Toronto Maple Leafs have also been bitten by the injury bug this week. The team stated that right winger P.A. Parenteau developed a muscle spasm in the team’s 4-1 loss to the Canadiens Saturday night, but has assured the team that he will be ready to play in the team’s next game against Tamp Bay.
However, center Byron Froese wasn’t so lucky on Satruday. The first year center sustained a broken hand, as a result of blocking the heavy shot of Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. It is unknown at this time when Froese will return to the lineup for the Leafs this season.
Staying in the province of Ontario, the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres pulled off a trade on Saturday night. The Senators sent minor leaguers Alex Guptill, Eric O’Dell, Cole Schneider, and Michael Sdao to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Jason Akeson, Phil Varone, and Jerom Leduc. Although it is important to note that this may be a deal for just minor leaguers, Varone and Akeson do have some NHL experience, and it is possible they could see ice time with the Senators.
The Senators also re-signed a couple of members of their big club this week. Defenseman Chris Wideman has signed a two-year deal with the team for a total of $1.6 million (US). Wideman has 10 points in 44 games in his first season with the Senators. The team also announced that veteran right winger Chris Neil has signed a one year-extension with the team at $1.5 million (US). Neil has 10 points in 62 games.
More news out of the Atlantic this week has the Tampa Bay Lightning has the team shoring up their defense by re-signing defenseman Braydon Coburn to a three year contract worth about $3.7 million (US) per season, and includes a no-trade clause for the first two years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause in the last year of the deal.
There’s one other item to celebrate in Tampa Bay this week. Captain Steve Stamkos scored career goal number 300 in the team’s 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last Saturday. While this is a pretty decent feat in itself, it’s important to note that Stamkos was the second youngest active NHLer at 26 years old and 13 days to reach this milestone behind Washington’s very own Alex Ovechkin, who was 25 years old and 200 days when he netted number 300.
Shifting to the Metropolitan, the Pittsburgh Penguins have made a couple moves of their own to make that final push to the playoffs. The Penguins re-signed defenseman Olli Määtä to a six-year, $24 million (US) extension that carries a limited no-trade clause that will be invoked later on in the contract. With this deal, the Penguins wish to keep his services around despite the fact he has overcome cancer, and a major shoulder injury.
Staying in the vein of young defensemen, Philadelphia Flyers rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere had his scoring streak halted at 15 games against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday. Those 15 games Gostisbehere had a point in is a new NHL record, and was in pretty select company with only Bobby Clarke, Brian Propp, and Eric Lindros having longer scoring streaks in Flyers history. When asked about his streak ending, Gostisbehere said, “It was a fun thing. I’m personally happy it’s over and we don’t have to talk about it anymore and I just want to thank all my teammates for all the support.”
Finally, sad news coming out of New York this week. The New York Rangers announced that legendary right winger Andy Bathgate has passed away at 83. Bathgate had been suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Bathgate played 12 seasons with the Rangers, garnering the Hart trophy in 1958-59 after scoring 40 goals that season.
Western Conference Recap:
There have been a few moves right before the NHL Trade Deadline this week. On Thursday, Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Ladd was shipped to back to the Chicago Blackhawks in a 4-player deal. The Jets also received a 1st round pick in the 2016 Draft and a conditional 2018 3rd round pick.
Andrew Ladd was one of the biggest names on the trade market for a while now. He will go back to Chicago for his second stint with the club. He won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks back in 2010, but was eventually traded away due to cap constraints. The Blackhawks are putting all their chips in to win another Stanley Cup. It will be interesting to see if the Hawks decide to re-sign Ladd long term. Ladd will still be one of the biggest names on the market if he hits free agency this summer.
The Winnipeg Jets took a major blow to their lineup recently. They announced that forward Bryan Little will miss the remainder of the season with a fractured vertebrae. He was second on the Jets in scoring this year as he had 42 points in 57 games.
The San Jose Sharks added some depth to their roster on Monday. They made a trade with the Maple Leafs and received forward Nick Spaling and defenseman Roman Polak. The Leafs received two 2nd round picks and Raffi Torres in this trade. The Sharks are sitting comfortably in 3rd in the Pacific Division, and they could still win the division. There are more rumors out of San Jose with the Sharks possibly looking for backup goaltending help. Chad Johnson, Jonathan Bernier, and James Reimer are names that have popped up in the rumor mill.
The Vancouver Canucks made a couple of roster tweaks earlier this week. They traded top prospect Hunter Shinkaruk to the Calgary Flames in exchange for forward Markus Granlund. It was a puzzling trade for the Canucks because Shinkaruk was having a career year for the AHL’s Utica Comets. Shinaruk was a 1st round pick of the Canucks back in 2013.
The Canucks also acquired defenseman Philip Larsen from the Edmonton Oilers for a 5th round pick. Larsen is actually in the KHL, so the Canucks secured his rights. There is some familiarity between Larsen and the Canucks coaching staff. Larsen is expected to sign with the Canucks on July 1.
A couple of teams to look out for during the NHL Trade Deadline weekend: the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers. The Kings will be looking to add to their lineup since the Blackhawks have made the first move. The Kings have been in the market for a defenseman for a while now. Will they land someone like Dan Hamhuis or Kris Russell?
The Edmonton Oilers have plenty of young talent at forward. GM Peter Chiarelli knows what he has, and he is aware that he needs to get some defensive help at some point. Does he dare trade one of the top young Oiler forwards like Nail Yakupov or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? What is going to happen with veteran forward Teddy Purcell and young defenseman Justin Schultz? Are they still in the Oilers future plans?
Andrea Sobolik: Eastern Conference
George Foussekis: Western Conference