- The Senators will be without center Colin White until after the All-Star break, notes Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch. He’s dealing with a shoulder injury sustained back on Thursday against Los Angeles. White very quietly sits second in rookie scoring this season with 26 points in 44 games. Meanwhile, Garrioch adds that defenseman Justin Falk is also nearing a return from a concussion sustained late last month while fellow blueliner Ben Harpur is taking contact in practice and should be able to return in the near future as well.
For the third year in a row, the NHL has scheduled a mandated multi-day break for each team in the middle part of the season. Meant to give each team a rest, much like the bye week in the National Football League, this break also includes limits on practice, including several days in which all team activities are prohibited. A seven-day break this season, on paper an increase from the original five-day break, the “bye week” is actually less intrusive this season than it has been in the past despite the longer length. All 31 teams will take their break either right before or right after the upcoming All-Star Weekend, with those two days counting toward the seven and simply extending what has always been a short break for non-participants. Below are the lists of teams who will take leave on one side of All-Star festivities or the other:
Before All-Star Weekend (January 20 – 24)
Columbus Blue Jackets
New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers
Tampa Bay Lightning
After All-Star Weekend (January 27 – 31)
Detroit Red Wings
Los Angeles Kings
New York Islanders
San Jose Sharks
St. Louis Blues
Toronto Maple Leafs
Vegas Golden Knights
How each team feels about taking an extended break in the middle of the season generally varies based on situational factors. While many players would enjoy getting to spend some time away with their families, others would rather keep the pedal to the metal mid-season. More specifically, a team that is playing well and stringing together wins would rather keep playing and not lose out on that momentum. Another team may be in a slump or struggling with injuries and desperately in need of a break. Either way, not every team will be in favor of the bye week each season.
There also remains some scheduling flaws with the mandated break, as most teams will only get the actual seven days or an eighth day off for travel, but others are set to go ten or eleven days without a contest. The “bye week” seems to be a move by the NHL that has enough support to continue in future seasons, but the league could work on sharpening the schedule so as to give teams as close to an even break as their competition as possible.
The San Jose Sharks are facing more than a few tough decisions when it comes to impending free agents this season. Fortunately, they’ve been able to get out in front of at least one set of negotiations. The Sharks have announced a two-year extension with forward Marcus Sorensen. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun adds that the new contract carries a $1.5MM cap hit.
Sorensen, 26, was set to hit the open market this summer for the first time as an established pro, but has in fact been a free agent before. Sorensen was actually a fourth-round pick by the Ottawa Senators back in 2010, but the team opted not to sign him. He remained in his native Sweden until a breakout season with Djurgardens IF in 2015-16 prompted him to examine his options in the NHL. Sorensen signed a one-year entry-level deal with San Jose and then signed a subsequent two-year extension, playing each season with the Sharks at under $1MM. Sorensen was nothing more than a part-time depth asset through his first two years, but this year is vastly outplaying his $700K price tag. The versatile bottom-six forward has a career-high 15 points and 47 games played already, having finally carved out a regular role for himself. While Sorensen possesses natural offensive instincts and stick-handling skills, he has finally embraced a more physical, high-energy game that makes him a valued depth forward.
With Sorensen signed, the Sharks have at least made a small dent in their laundry list of free agency decisions. Captain Joe Pavelski, aging legend Joe Thornton, and talented winger Joonas Donskoi are all set to be unrestricted free agents, while breakout star Timo Meier and fellow young forward Kevin Labanc are also due new contracts as restricted free agents. Of course, that’s just up front, as superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson is obviously the team’s biggest question mark. The Sharks are rolling right now, winning eight of their last ten games, and are legitimate Stanley Cup threats this season. How well that pursuit goes will obviously dictate what steps they take in free agency. Yet, the team already determined that Sorensen was a player worth keeping no matter what, which says a lot about how much the team values their under-rated forward.
Just six games on the schedule for Monday night but that does include an old-fashioned rivalry game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. The two Eastern Conference franchises will face off with plenty on the line given their places in the standings. Boston currently has a three point lead on Montreal for third place in the Atlantic Division. As teams prepare for tonight’s action we’ll be right here keeping track of all the minor moves.
- The Ottawa Senators have sent Darren Archibald and Stefan Elliott back to the minor leagues, given they don’t play again until Wednesday. That leaves the Senators with just 21 players on the roster, meaning another move is likely before they take the ice. For Senators fans, that move is hopefully going to be the activation of Thomas Chabot who was at practice this morning in a regular jersey.
- Stefan Noesen has been placed on injured reserve by the New Jersey Devils in order to make room for Egor Yakovlev on the roster once again. Noesen’s IR stint is retroactive to January 12th, though it’s not clear when exactly he’ll return from this lower-body injury.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets have sent Gabriel Carlsson and Kole Sherwood back to the minor leagues, meaning they’ll have to wait to get into the NHL lineup. Carlsson has played only a single game with the Blue Jackets this season, while Ohio native Sherwood is still waiting on his NHL debut.
- Michael Hutchinson has been returned to the minor leagues by the Toronto Maple Leafs as Frederik Andersen prepares to return to the crease. Toronto will also get Garret Sparks back on the end of the bench as the backup, meaning Hutchinson can return to the AHL and serve as valuable depth.
- Similarly Adin Hill has been sent back to the AHL by the Arizona Coyotes, who instead will use Darcy Kuemper in the starting role moving forward. Hill has shown himself to be a capable NHL netminder in his short career, but will be served better by starting every game in the minor leagues to continue his development.
- After trading away Devin Shore earlier today, the Dallas Stars have recalled Michael Mersch from the minor leagues. Mersch has just 17 games under his belt at the NHL level, all with the Los Angeles Kings in 2015-16. He does however have 20 points in 29 games for the Texas Stars and can be used as forward insurance as the team gets Andrew Cogliano up to speed.
While the Senators have several notable pending unrestricted free agents, they also have an intriguing restricted free agent on the horizon in defenseman Cody Ceci. With a $4.3MM qualifying offer due at the end of the season, that may be too rich for Ottawa’s liking. Accordingly, TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted in an appearance on TSN 1200 (audio link) that Ceci could also be a trade candidate for the Sens down the stretch. His possession numbers aren’t pretty but he has been miscast in a top role all season long and it’s plausible to think that he would fare better in a lower spot on a contending team in a role that he’s better suited to play at this stage of his career.
Sunday’s practice in Toronto seemed like old times as both of the Toronto Maple Leafs injured goaltenders, Frederik Andersen (groin/illness) and Garret Sparks (concussion) could be found on the ice. The team had already sent Kasimir Kaskisuo back to the Toronto Marlies in the AHL and Michael Hutchinson was seen after practice working on his own.
TSN’s Mark Masters reports that Andersen said he feels fine and is ready to return. However, Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said that he had to refer to the staff before naming a starter for Monday’s game against Colorado. Andersen hasn’t appeared in a game since Dec. 22. Andersen has been the team’s rock in goal as he has a 2.50 GAA and a .923 save percentage in 30 games this season.
Masters adds that Sparks said he’s been medically cleared to return to the team and it’s now up to the staff to determine whether he can return to the roster on Monday. Toronto has to be hopeful that both goaltenders can take over some of the workload as Hutchinson has now played in nine games this season. If he reaches 10 games, the team will have to pass him through waivers when both their goalies are healthy and there is a likelihood the team could lose another goaltender there. The team already lost both Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard to waivers at the beginning of the year.
- The Department of Player Safety announced that they have fined Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev $2,403.67, the maximum fine allowable by the CBA, for cross checking Buffalo Sabres forward Johan Larsson Saturday. The incident occurred at 13:24 of the third period and Sergachev received a double-minor penalty on the play. Despite the fine, the 20-year-old has seen an improvement from the offensive end as he has a goal and four assists in his last five games with a plus-two rating. Despite the fact that many feel that Sergachev has taken a step back this season, he has actually increased his ATOI from 15:22 last season to 17:44 this season.
- While it’s vague, Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher responded positively when asked about the injury status of second-year defenseman Thomas Chabot, saying that “Chabot is doing terrific,” according to Ottawa Sun’s Ken Warren. Chabot has been out since Dec. 28th after taking a hit from New York Islanders’ Matt Martin with an upper body injury and was deemed to be out “long-term.” While the update gives no projection on when he’ll be back, the team has been crippled without him as he has developed into the team’s No. 1 defenseman after the team traded away Erik Karlsson. Chabot was averaging a point a game so far this year with 10 goals and 28 assists in 38 games.
The Ottawa Senators have completed their scouting meeting in Florida recently and many now are waiting on what general manager Pierre Dorion intends to do with less than two months before the trade deadline. The team has three critical unrestricted free agents on their team in Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel and it’s been made clear that the team can’t afford to lose any of them for nothing.
According to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, the rumor is that Ottawa intends to attempt to re-sign both Stone and Duchene, but the team is ready to listen to offers for Dzingel. The 26-year-old winger has improved every year with Ottawa and could net the team a solid return as has two key qualities in his speed and ability to score in front of the net. Dzingel, who is coming off a 23-goal season last season, already has 17 goals in 32 games this season and looks to be heading for a new career-high in goals as well as points. The downside to Dzingel is that he can disappear for long stretches of time and sometimes avoids going to the net.
Of course, even though Ottawa is ready to negotiate with both Stone and Duchene, that doesn’t mean the team will be able to work out a deal with either one of them. If that’s the case, the Senators might be forced to trade more than just Dzingel. The belief is the team is now ready with all scenarios if they are forced to trade one, two or all three of those players at the trade deadline.
- It looks like Tuukka Rask was earned back his starting job for the Boston Bruins, according to The Athletic’s Joe McDonald (subscription required). The veteran goaltender lost playing time to backup Jaroslav Halak this season, but with Rask on a four-game winning streak along with a 1.23 GAA and a .959 save percentage, it looks like he’s taken back his job. “There’s one net and Tuukka’s playing very well now and we’re trying to get him as many starts, so obviously that’s going to limit Jaro’s activity,” explained head coach Bruce Cassidy after Thursday’s loss. “When he’s in there he’s got to basically outplay (Rask) and that’s been the mantra with a lot of players in our group and that’s where (Halak’s) at now if he wants to get more starts.”
- While rating the players on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, The Athletic’s Ian Tulloch (subscription required) writes that Patrick Marleau has fallen short of expectations this season. He writes the biggest problem with Marleau is fans’ expectations for the veteran forward, who is coming off a season where he scored 27 goals last year. However, if you factor in the five empty net goals, his season wasn’t nearly as impressive. Add in the fact that Marleau is 39 years old now, no one should be surprised that the winger has undergone a decline. His 10 goals and 43 games suggest he may not even reach 20 goals for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
If the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline is deep at any one type of player, it is power forward. As the February 25th deadline grows closer and teams begin to make tough decisions about who goes and who stays, it is becoming clear that many big, physical scoring forwards are about to be up for grabs before they hit free agency. Just this past week, it was reported that the Philadelphia Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds was likely to be moved and inferred that the Carolina Hurricanes and Micheal Ferland were unlikely to come to terms ahead of the deadline. And that’s just the beginning.
Outside of the 6’2″ Simmonds and 220-lb. Ferland, there are plenty of other names out there that fit the power forward mold. Since this summer, the New York Rangers’ Kevin Hayes has been earmarked for a deadline trade. If they cannot agree to an extension, the Ottawa Senators may be forced to move star Mark Stone. Should the New York Islanders or Colorado Avalanche fall out of the playoff race, Brock Nelson and Colin Wilson – neither of whom look like long-term fits on their respective teams – should be on the block. To some surprise, Patrick Maroon’s time with his hometown St. Louis Blues appears to be already running out. Even role player power forwards like New Jersey’s Brian Boyle and Florida’s Troy Brouwer should draw interest.
Many of these players feature on the trade bait lists from both The Athletic and TSN, as well as some non-UFA power forwards like the Blues’ Brayden Schenn, the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, the Wild’s Nino Niederreiter, and even young Jesse Puljujarvi of the Edmonton Oilers. While it may seem like too many names for too few teams – and it is a buyer’s market this year for sure – The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun mentioned a number of suitors for a power forward who could make a move for one or more of these trade candidates in the coming weeks. At the top, LeBrun sees some of the biggest contenders as likely landing spots, naming the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, and Calgary Flames as good fits for Simmonds, Ferland, and the like. He also adds the Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights into that group. Of course, the Bruins and Jets also have needs down the middle and could be more ideal fits for Hayes or Nelson, while the wingers would appeal more to Tampa Bay and Nashville. While LeBrun casts doubt on the Toronto Maple Leafs being interested, if an arms race begins the team could feel pressured to add to their forward corps as well. The Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars, both in need of secondary scoring, could also jump in on the action, while the Patric Hornqvist injury could prompt the Pittsburgh Penguins to make another move.
With so many power forwards potentially available and prices expected to be low, it could be that the majority of playoff-bound teams decide to add a hired gun up front this season. You can never have too much size and grit in the postseason, not to mention scoring touch, and the 2019 deadline could be defined by many players possessing those exact traits heading to new teams. With plenty of talent available, one of the aforementioned players might just end up being the x-factor for the eventual Stanley Cup champions this year.
After making a minor league swap with the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier today, the Ottawa Senators were back at it with the Boston Bruins. Ottawa has acquired minor league defenseman Cody Goloubef from the Bruins in exchange for Paul Carey. Both players will report to their respective new AHL teams.
Goloubef has been playing with the Providence Bruins for the entire year after winning an Olympic bronze medal last year as part of Canada’s non-NHL squad. The 29-year old defenseman was the 37th overall pick in 2008 but has failed to really establish himself as a full-time option. He did play 33 games for the Colorado Avalanche in 2016-17, but that was as part of one of the worst teams in hockey history. Still, he’s been an excellent contributor over the years at the minor league level and will help the Belleville Senators on the blue line for the rest of the year. Goloubef is on a one-year two-way deal that pays $650K at the NHL level.
Carey meanwhile is a veteran forward that can help fill in for the injuries in Providence while giving Boston some NHL experience at the ready. The 30-year old forward played 60 games for the New York Rangers last season, recording 14 points. He’s also on a one-year two-way contract, but earns $700K at the NHL level. It’s unlikely that we’ll see either of these players for long stretches in the NHL.
Just four games are on the schedule for this evening, but one will feature the return of a former franchise player. Jeff Skinner returns to Carolina for the first time as a Buffalo Sabres forward and has his team on track for the playoffs. The Sabres sit just two points behind the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division and could tie them with their game in hand tonight. Skinner’s 29 goals are a huge part of Buffalo’s success, and have him on pact for a new career high.
- Kasimir Kaskisuo has been returned to the minor leagues by the Toronto Maple Leafs, but won’t be there for long. Frederik Andersen is not expected to play until Monday according to Lance Hornby of Postmedia, meaning Michael Hutchinson will likely get another start in net tomorrow night.
- With MacKenzie Blackwood on injured reserve and potentially staying in the NHL long-term, the Binghamton Devils have signed Evan Cormier to an AHL contract for the rest of the season. Cormier had been playing on an amateur tryout previously, but has a .938 save percentage in four games.
- Speaking of the Devils, the New Jersey variety have sent Egor Yakovlev back down to Binghamton today. Yakovlev is expected to suit up for the minor league game tonight, his ninth game with Binghamton this season.
- The Ottawa Senators have placed Colin White on injured reserve, recalling Stefan Elliott in his place. White suffered an upper-body injury against the Los Angeles Kings last night when he was crushed by defenseman Jake Muzzin.
- Troy Grosenick is heading back to the AHL after filling in for Juuse Saros on the bench last night. The minor league goaltender was called up under emergency conditions when Saros was sick, but won’t get into an NHL game just yet.
- The San Jose Sharks have returned both forward Rourke Chartier and defenseman Jacob Middleton to the AHL Barracuda, the team announced. Considering the Sharks and Barracuda share a building, every recall and reassignment in San Jose is a paper transaction. The duo are expected to play for the Barracuda tonight, but could very well be called up tomorrow when the Sharks host the Ottawa Senators. With both Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun still sidelined, there’s a a good chance that at least Middleton’s return is only temporary.
- In search of more offense, the Buffalo Sabres recalled top AHL forward C.J. Smith last month. After recording, one point in four games, he’s headed back down. The team announced that Smith has been reassigned to the Rochester Americans. No corresponding move has been made as of yet.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets have shuffled their lineup, sending emergency backup J-F Berube and winger Eric Robinson back to the AHL and promoting center Kevin Stenlund, per a team release. The 6’4″ pivot has yet to make his NHL debut, but has performed well in his second season in North America and has the makings of a strong bottom-six center. A second-round pick by Columbus back in 2015, Stenlund’s arrival to the Blue Jackets roster has been long-awaited.