- Although Avalanche center J.T. Compher is skating on his own, he is not progressing from a concussion he sustained in mid-October, head coach Jared Bednar told Ryan Goulding of the Denver Post. Accordingly, there is no timetable for his return. The 23-year-old was off to a strong start to his season before the injury, collecting three goals and an assist through his first five games. Meanwhile, Goulding adds that winger Sven Andrighetto has also resumed skating and could be available to play on their upcoming two-game road trip that begins on Friday.
A year ago today, the Ottawa Senators made a three-team deal with the Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators. Since then, names like Erik Karlsson, Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Evander Kane, and Tomas Tatar (twice) have all been traded. Yet, it’s that November 5th deal that is still the most memorable recent trade for many, due to both the immediate impact and the lasting results.
In that trade, Ottawa – at a contract impasse with center Kyle Turris – dealt he, first-round prospect forward Shane Bowers, goaltender Andrew Hammond, a first-round pick, and a third-round pick to Colorado. The Avs then flipped Turris to Nashville for defenseman Samuel Girard, forward Vladislav Kamenev, and a second-round pick. It was quite a haul for Colorado and they have yet to even use either of Ottawa’s picks, including a likely lottery pick in the first round next year. The Predators meanwhile signed Turris to a six-year extension and he has 53 points in 79 games since joining the team. The return for all of this for the Senators? Matt Duchene, who a year later is in limbo with an expiring contract and a team that is far from the contender he was promised.
As TSN’s Ian Mendes notes, Senators GM Pierre Dorion was coming off a 2016-17 season that saw his team make a run to the Eastern Conference final. When he acquired Duchene, he thought it could be the final piece of the puzzle to get them back and through that third round of the playoffs. Instead, Ottawa sunk to the second-worst record in the NHL. It’s too late to reverse that trade or the events of last season. The team could have simply traded Turris for picks and prospects at the deadline, as Mendes points out, and certainly could have found a deal for a top-six forward this off-season that was far less expensive. Their first-round pick in 2019 could be first overall, franchise center Jack Hughes, and there’s nothing they could do. Boston University standout Bowers could blossom into a top-line forward, but there’s no recourse for that. The only element of the trade left in the control of Dorion and the Senators is the future of Duchene and with it potentially the future of the team.
Ottawa is faced with two choices this season: pay Duchene or trade him. The 2009 third overall pick carries a $6MM cap hit on his current contract. If he were to hit the open market, he would certainly be due a raise. Duchene’s alleged reason for wanting out of Colorado last season was ironically that he didn’t want to play through a rebuild. If that is still his mindset, it would take a substantial sum from the Senators to keep him around. Owner Eugene Melnyk has been unwilling to pay his better player their fair value, leading to the Karlsson trade and likely more moves to come. Will he make an exception for Duchene? If not, the Senators need to move Duchene and sooner rather than later. The trade deadline will be the final opportunity to trade the star center, who will have a long list of suitors, but his value drops each day leading up to that point. Dorion will likely never get back a package commensurate with what he gave up for Duchene, but his best chance to get close is to trade him as soon as possible to the highest bidder.
Either option serves to benefit the Senators. Duchene may not be a superstar, but he is a talented, well-rounded player who is capable of leading Ottawa out of the basement if provided with at least a little support. On the other side, the team cannot escape the reality of their own rebuild and could greatly use the trade capital that they would gain from a Duchene trade. The worst case scenario – and a veritable death knell for the franchise – would be to make neither decision, opting not to trade Duchene and waiting and hoping for an extension agreement only to watch him walk away in free agency. One year later, this notorious trade is still so prevalent around the NHL. The Senators should celebrate the anniversary by making another major move with Duchene – a new contract or another trade – as soon as humanly possible.
Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog has made quite a name for himself as he currently is tied for the NHL lead in goals scored with 11. That’s quite a feat for a player, who has averaged 20 goals a season for the past seven seasons, a number he could surpass before Thanksgiving. Regardless, Landeskog says most of his success comes from a combination of playing with the top line of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, as well as his growing skills and confidence on the ice, according to Sean Keeler of the Denver Post.
“It’s just a combination of luck and hard work and confidence, and being in the right place at the right time,” Landeskog said. “I think, right now, I don’t think there’s a reason maybe other than our line’s played really well and has been able to create some scoring chances. Together with those two guys, yeah, I’ve been able to put some in the back of the net.”
While Landeskog’s game could easily drop back to earth at any time, many feel that the 25-year-old, a former second-overall pick back in 2011, may just have finally found his game.
“I think he’s worked on (his shooting), he’s worked on his touch around the net,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “He’s getting into those areas more, and he’s coming up with rebounds and loose pucks. And part of that is his teammates being able to move the puck into those areas on a more consistent basis.”
- The Athletic’s Adam Vingan reports that one potential problem that could come with Pekka Rinne’s new two-year extension that he signed earlier today would be that there could be some expansion ramifications for the Nashville Predators. The scribe notes that since Rinne will have the same no-movement clause in his next contract, the Predators could be forced to protect Rinne and have to expose Juuse Saros to the Seattle expansion franchise in a couple of years. However, Rinne could opt to waive the no-movement clause as well and allow himself to be taken by Seattle like Marc-Andre Fleury did in Pittsburgh. Regardless, it’s too early to speculate, especially since the Seattle team hasn’t been formally approved.
- After being scratched Thursday night, Chicago Blackhawks center Nick Schmaltz feels that he has learned his lesson after picking up just one assist in the last five games, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus. “I don’t think I was playing as good as I can — especially in Vancouver, I didn’t think I had a very good game,” said Schmaltz. “Take it as a learning lesson and move on from it and make sure that I’m playing to stick in the lineup every night.”
It’s a busy time in the NHL, with 24 teams scheduled to square off over the course of the day. The action kicks off with a matinee featuring division rivals, Buffalo and Ottawa. Later tonight, heavyweights do battle with Tampa Bay-Montreal, Toronto-Pittsburgh, Boston-Nashville, and Chicago-Calgary. It could also be a big day for transactions, as teams get set to face the week ahead. Keep up with all of the minor moves right here:
- The Toronto Maple Leafs have recalled forward Trevor Moore from the AHL Marlies, the team announced. Moore, 23, is off to a terrific start to the minor league season with twelve points in ten games. That effort may earn him his NHL debut on this most recent call-up. An undrafted free agent out of the University of Denver, Moore is in his third season with the organization but has played exclusively with the Marlies. After back-to-back 33-point regular season campaigns, Moore took a step forward in the postseason, registering 17 points in 20 games en route to a Calder Cup. He has kept that hot streak going this season and will now try to translate his ability to the next level. A Mitch Marner-style player, Moore could fit in nicely with the Maple Leafs if given the opportunity.
- CapFriendly reports that the Anaheim Ducks have reassigned forward Kalle Kossila to their AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. Kossila was activated from the season-opening injured reserve last week and made his season debut for the Ducks on Thursday night. The St. Cloud product has dominated at the AHL level since turning pro in 2016, but has only managed to skate in twelve games and record two points for Anaheim. Expected to play a more regular role this season, it is possible that Kossila’s assignment is simply a paper transaction to save cap space ahead of a stretch of four games in six nights. However, it also would not be a surprise to see Kossila spend some time in the AHL, where he will quickly re-discover his scoring touch, before being handed significant minutes by the Ducks.
- The New York Islanders announced (via Twitter) that they have re-assigned goaltender Christopher Gibson to Bridgeport of the AHL. He was recalled on an emergency basis on Wednesday with Robin Lehner banged up but he is now capable as dressing as the backup goalie which eliminated the need for Gibson. The 25-year-old Gibson has struggled in the early going this season, posting 4.21 GAA and a .861 SV% through six games in the minors.
- Jon Rosen of Fox Sports reports that the Los Angeles Kings have assigned forward Austin Wagner and defenseman Sean Walker to the Ontario Reign of the AHL, but the reporter wasn’t sure who the team intended to recall. CapFriendly now reports that Los Angeles has recalled forwards Michael Amadio and Matt Luff. While Luff has yet to make his NHL debut, Amadio has been with the team for most of the season, getting into nine games. However, after scoring just one goal, the Kings sent him to Ontario to work on his game. He played one game there, posting three assists and already has been recalled.
- The Colorado Avalanche announced they have sent forward A.J. Greer to the Colorado Eagles of the AHL. With the Avalanche on a four-day break before returning to work, it’s likely the team has sent Greer down to get some work. He has played in eight games for the Eagles and has posted eight points, but has appeared in just one game with the Avalanche. BSN Denver’s AJ Haefele writes that it’s likely that Greer will be back when the Avalanche return to action on Wednesday. However, if he isn’t recalled, that might suggest that center Tyson Jost might be ready to return to the ice.
- The Winnipeg Jets announced they have returned defenseman Tucker Poolman and goaltender Eric Comrie to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL after taking the pair as non-roster players on their trip to Helsinki, Finland. Poolman has played six games for the Moose and has three assists in six games. The 23-year-old Comrie has also played solidly for Manitoba this year. He has put up a .917 save percentage and a 2.80 GAA in five games.
The NHL has decided on their Three Stars for the most recent week of hockey, and leading the way is someone who is no stranger to individual accolades. Sidney Crosby is the first star, after recording seven points in three games including two highlight reel efforts against the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. Crosby continues to shine as he enters the back half of his career, and is well on his way to another point-per-game campaign.
The other two spots go to young Western Conference stars, with Mark Scheifele and Mikko Rantanen garnering second and third star respectively. Scheifele has developed into one of the very best two-way centers in the entire league, and will lead the Winnipeg Jets into action in Finland this week. Rantanen meanwhile is part of the hottest line in hockey for the Colorado Avalanche, and currently leads the league in points with 21 through his first 12 games.
- The NHL has announced a partnership with MGM Resorts to enter the world of sports betting, giving the organization use of their official branding and trademarks. Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke very positively about the development as he announced it, and also explained that player tracking systems will be ready to implement next season. The league expects the partnership to first and foremost help with fan engagement, though it also will provide a new revenue stream.
- Though it had been expected, head coach Jeff Blashill of the Detroit Red Wings confirmed that Michael Rasmussen will remain with the team for the time being. Rasmussen has currently played nine games in the NHL this season, meaning his next test will burn the first year of his entry-level contract. Blashill spoke highly of his young rookie, and explained that he’ll be moved back to center as they deal with injuries to some of their other options.
- Despite his trade request and eventual departure from the Avalanche last season, Senators center Matt Duchene hasn’t closed the book on playing in Colorado again down the road. Speaking with reporters, including Postmedia’s Ken Warren, Duchene indicated that he could see himself returning to the Avs one day. The veteran is a pending unrestricted free agent but it would certainly be surprising to see him head back to Colorado so soon after forcing a trade.
Not much has gone right for the Florida Panthers this season, but the team hopes that they may have good news on the horizon after goaltender Roberto Luongo was on the ice Sunday taking shots, according to NHL.com’s Jameson Olive. The team lost the oft-injured netminder during the second period of the season opener when teammate Frank Vatrano fell on him, forcing him out of the game with a lower-body injury.
The 39-year-old has fared well when healthy, but he hasn’t played more than 40 games since the 2015-16 season, which isn’t great considering the team is paying him $4.53MM per year for four more years. Head coach Bob Boughner was thrilled to see Luongo back on the ice, but has no intention of bringing him back until he is 110 percent healthy.
“He’s a huge part of this team. And you can see, no slight to anybody else, this team’s missed him,” Boughner said. “We’re a different team when he’s playing.”
- The Columbus Blue Jackets also had good news as winger Brandon Dubinsky participated in Sunday’s morning skate, according to The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline (subscription required). Dubinsky has been out since Oct. 8 with a partially torn oblique muscle, but there remains no timetable for his return. The original diagnosis for Dubinsky’s injury was four to six weeks. He hasn’t been out three weeks yet, but the 32-year-old said that he’d be disappointed if he didn’t play on the team’s upcoming road trip, starting Thursday and going through Sunday. “I would say I’m ahead of schedule, but I don’t want to come back early and set myself back a few weeks,” Dubinsky said. The veteran had only played in two games before getting injured, but already had a goal and an assist.
- The Colorado Avalanche may be without one of their top youngsters for a while as BSN’s Adrian Dater reported that the team will be without center Tyson Jost indefinitely. Jost, who suffered a head injury Friday in the third period against Ottawa, has a goal and an assist in 11 games so far this season. The 20-year-old scored 12 goals in his rookie season last year, but had worked his way higher up in the lineup this year.
- Newsday’s Colin Stephenson reports that New York Rangers head coach David Quinn said that defenseman Adam McQuaid is day-to-day with a lower-body injury he sustained in the first period Thursday. He is not expected to play Sunday against Los Angeles, which could open up another chance for defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, who has only appeared in two games for the Rangers this season.
The NHL has released the Three Stars for the third week of the season, and Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has found himself in the top spot. Landeskog makes up part of one of the most dangerous trios in the league alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, and finished last week with six goals and seven points in just three games. Landeskog is still just 25 years old despite this being his eighth season in the league and still has the potential to breakout and become a point-per-game player. That’s what he is so far with ten through his first eight games, and is an early bet to break his career high of 65 points this season.
Connor McDavid and Marc-Andre Fleury round out the stars of the week, taking home second and third respectively. Fleury especially bounced back from some early season struggles and is once again playing at a high level for the Vegas Golden Knights. The 33-year old goaltender is now tenth all-time in wins, and should pass Tony Esposito by season’s end to climb another spot.
- Robert Bortuzzo won’t be suiting up for the St. Louis Blues in Winnipeg tonight, as he’s flown back to St. Louis to be evaluated for a lower-body injury. The defenseman played on Saturday night, but is now apparently dealing with something serious enough to leave the team. The 29-year old has one goal through five games for the Blues, and is coming off the best season of his career in 2017-18 when he suited up for 72 contests. The team will have to go without his physicality and penalty killing for the time being, and will re-insert Jay Bouwmeester into the lineup for tonight’s game.
- It’s similar news for David Backes, who has left the Boston Bruins to return home and “have some tests done.” Backes didn’t play in Vancouver on Saturday night, and was limited to just over six minutes of ice time against the Edmonton Oilers after taking an early hit and being checked for a concussion. The 34-year old forward hasn’t scored yet this season, and could be on his way out of the Boston lineup on a long-term basis if he both can’t stay healthy and can’t produce. Unfortunately for the Bruins, he’s still has two more years after this season at a $6MM cap hit, and currently has a no-movement clause.
It’s been six days since winger Marko Dano was claimed by the Colorado Avalanche and the 23-year-old forward finally got an opportunity to practice with the team Sunday, but no one is quite sure when he may make his Avalanche debut, but it could come as early as Monday, according to NHL.com’s Callie Parmele.
Dano already has some familiarity with the team, especially with head coach Jared Bednar and assistant coach Nolan Pratt, who both were on the Springfield Falcons coaching staff during the 2013-14 season when Dano made his North American debut in the AHL for the team’s final 10 games. Bednar was promoted to head coach the following year where he had even more time with Dano.
“We had a good run in Springfield, and it’s always good when you know the coach,” Dano said of his relationship with Bednar. “We haven’t seen each other for a long time, and I am excited to work with him and I appreciate the chance they have given to me.”
- Still with the Avalanche, the team likes what it sees in Vladislav Kamenev, who received the most ice time of his career on Thursday when he skated 12:36 against the New Jersey Devils. Although he hasn’t turned that extra time into offense (he has no points in five games this season), he is building trust in his head coach. “We feel like from watching him work in practice in that area, we can give him those minutes,” Bednar said Friday. “We trust him with those minutes. He’s done a nice job in the games so far. I think he’s getting better and better as he feels more comfortable and feels like he belongs, which is normal. I just want him to keep pushing himself and try and be a difference maker every night.”
- While Chicago Blackhawks Stan Bowman hardly can admit victory in his offseason trade a year ago when he traded Artemi Panarin to Columbus for Brandon Saad and Anton Forsberg, he knew that the Panarin’s contract situation would be a problem for the Blackhawks too had they chosen to hold onto him, according to Mark Lazerus of The Athletic (subscription required), who analyzes who won last year’s trade. Saad has struggled in his return to Chicago and is struggling on the bottom-six, while Forsberg hasn’t fared any better in net for the team, but Bowman knew there were going to be problems with Panarin, who has shown little to no interest in signing an extension in Columbus and has put the team in a tough position as he plays out the final year of his contract while they are trying to compete for a playoff spot. “They’re in a tough spot now,” Bowman told The Athletic on Saturday night. “What do you do with him? I saw that coming as a challenge.”
- Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that considering how well the St. Louis Blues defense played on Saturday, he doubts whether the team will put defenseman Jay Bouwmeester back on the ice for Monday’s game against Winnipeg. The veteran was scratched for the first time in his career Saturday as his play hasn’t been up to his usual standards. The Blues put forth one of the best games of the season, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1.
A decision is looming for the Nashville Predators. As TSN’s Bob McKenzie again noted in yesterday’s “Insider Trading” segment, forward Eeli Tolvanen has a European Assignment Clause that would allow him to leave North America after ten games in the AHL. When Tolvanen failed to break camp and was assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals, the countdown began. After last night, Tolvanen has skated in all six of the Admirals games and would hit ten by the end of a busy four-game stretch next week. The 2017 first-round pick came over from Jokerit of the KHL late last season and played in three regular season games for the Predators, but did not see the ice in the postseason. He was then expected to be an impact player in Nashville this year, but did not make enough of an impression in the preseason. While the Predators may be equally as disappointed in the situation as Tolvanen, it is the Finnish forward who holds all the leverage. If he opts to leave and return to the KHL, where he would make a much higher salary and play a more important role, he can’t return to the NHL this season. Nashville would lose a valued depth asset for nothing for the remainder of the year. Can and will they offer Tolvanen a full-time spot on the NHL roster? Or will the young forward see the developmental value in remaining in the AHL? If the answer to both of these questions is “no”, a budding star will soon depart from North America this season.
- Could Wojtek Wolski be eyeing a return to North America? It seems unlikely for the former Colorado Avalanche star, who has played in the KHL for parts of the last six seasons. However, Wolski and his most recent club, Mettalurg Magnitogorsk, have come to a mutual agreement on the termination of his contract, the team announced. Wolski has been a valued hired gun in the KHL for some time now, but as he enters the twilight of his career – now 32 years old with a lot of tread on the tires – Wolski could try to land a gig in the AHL or even NHL in an attempt to get back to the top level of pro hockey before his playing days are done. He certainly put on a good show for NHL eyes on the international stage last season, leading Team Canada in goals at the Olympic Games. Wolski last played in the NHL in 2012-13 with the Washington Capitals and was far from the 50-point form he showed early in his career with the Avs, but was nevertheless a serviceable player. Don’t rule out the possibility that he tries his hand at a return. Even if he doesn’t, he won’t remain unemployed for very long.
- Former Boston University forward Chase Phelps has made an interesting career move. A four-year starter for the Terriers, the undrafted Phelps was seemingly unable to land a job in North America this off-season, not showing up on any training camp rosters either. The checking forward was a reliable defensive asset for BU for four years, even if his offensive production never matched up with his USHL No. 21 overall pick tag. Yet, Phelps has found a team willing to give him a chance. French club Anglet has signed the two-way forward, the team announced. Located in the south of France, Anglet plays in the French premiere league, the “Synerglace Ligue Magnus”. Phelps was once a standout for Shattuck St. Mary’s; now moving on from the uber-competitive Hockey East Conference to the French pro ranks, perhaps he can re-discover that scoring touch.