- At the beginning of the season, it was expected that the Canucks would bring top prospect Vasili Podkolzin over to North America at the end of his KHL season and have him burn the first year of his entry-level deal for the stretch run. However, his agent Sergey Isakov told Sport 24’s Maxim Samartsev that Podkolzin will instead stay in Russia and focus on earning a spot with their entry into next month’s World Championships. It’s a logical decision as by the time that Podkolzin secures a work visa and gets through quarantine, Vancouver’s season would be close to over if not finished already. The 20-year-old had 11 points in 35 games with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL this season.
The IIHF Women’s World Championship will be canceled for the second year in a row, according to Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek. The event was scheduled to take place in Halifax next month, but is now being shelved because of the ongoing COVID-19 situation in Canada. It’s difficult to keep seeing international events go down, but this one was especially important as teams from around the world prepared for the 2022 Olympics. They now will have to go another year without facing each other in the top annual tournament.
Update: The tournament in Halifax has been officially canceled, but the IIHF notes that “this does not mean that we will not have a Women’s World Championship in 2021.” Hockey Canada and the international organization will attempt to find another host city in the coming months.
More from around the hockey world:
- The Seattle Kraken don’t have official standing in the league just yet so can’t make any signings or complete trades, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been in touch with teams around the league. Pierre LeBrun and Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic examine six situations that could be ripe for an expansion draft deal, including one in Tampa Bay where the Lightning already have more salary committed to next season than they’re allowed to under the cap. Bolts’ GM Julien BriseBois will need to move out some contracts this summer and who better than the expansion Kraken to take a performing-but-overpaid forward off their hands.
- The Vancouver Canucks are a great story to watch down the stretch as they try to make a postseason run following their huge COVID outbreak, but the front office will have to be a little more forward-looking in the days to come. One of those future moves could be bringing back Nikita Tryamkin, as Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet writes that the club will engage with the hulking defenseman in the next few days. Tryamkin has spent the last four seasons in the KHL where he has continued to develop into a legitimate two-way force, using his 6’7″ frame effectively all over the ice. The Russian defenseman’s agent Todd Diamond was on Donnie and Dhali just this week, saying he believes his client is ready for an NHL return.
The Department of Player Safety has come to a decision on Alexander Edler following his phone hearing, issuing a two-game suspension to the Vancouver Canucks defenseman. Edler’s ban comes for a kneeing incident in last night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, which resulted in an injury to Zach Hyman. As the accompanying video explains:
It is important to note that it is not the evasive move that causes unavoidable knee-on-knee contact through no fault of Edler’s. Edler approaches Hyman with a wide base, which is common as part of a natural hitting motion. When Hyman makes his move, Edler has the option to make a full adjustment of his entire body and attempt a full body check, or to maintain his current course and attempt to slow Hyman down in some other fashion. Instead, fatigued after a long shift, Edler only adjusts his right leg, turning his right foot outward to extend his leg further. While this movement is slight, it insures that leg on leg contact will occur and ultimately means that Edler drives his knee directly into the knee of Hyman with force.
Edler received a major penalty and game misconduct on the play but will have to sit out two games as well. The Maple Leafs have not yet issued an update on Hyman’s status.
Though it cannot be considered in this instance, this isn’t the first time Edler has received a suspension for kneeing. While playing at the 2013 World Championships for Sweden, he was kicked out of the tournament for a knee-on-knee hit against Canada’s Eric Staal. He has also been suspended twice in his NHL career, but not since the 2013-14 season.
Edler only just returned along with the rest of the Canucks from a weeks-long layoff thanks to a COVID outbreak. They’ll now have to navigate the next two games–tomorrow against the Maple Leafs and Thursday against Ottawa–without one of their key defenders and a player who logs heavy minutes on a regular basis.
The Vancouver Canucks are just getting back in the swing of things but at least one of their veteran players won’t be in the lineup for the next while. Alexander Edler will have a hearing today with the Department of Player Safety for his kneeing incident in last night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Partway through the second period, Hyman stole the puck at center ice and was trying to carry it into the zone when Edler closed the gap for a hit. His right leg was extended and the two went knee-on-knee, resulting in Hyman crumpled on the ice in pain. The Maple Leafs forward left the game and did not return, while Edler received a major penalty and game misconduct.
Toronto hasn’t announced how severe the injury is for Hyman (though captain John Tavares did say his teammate was “optimistic” in the locker room), but it appears as though Edler will miss at least one game. Even if he isn’t the all-situations workhorse he was a few years ago, Edler is still an important part of the Canucks’ defense and will be missed, especially given how difficult the team’s schedule is for the rest of the season.
With their first game about to get underway later tonight after a COVID-19 outbreak shut down the Vancouver Canucks for three and a half weeks, the team had to make several roster moves to fill up their roster. With a number of players still not ready, the team announced they have recalled a number of players, including forwards Tyler Graovac and Kole Lind, defenseman Guillaume Brisebois, and goaltender Michael Dipietro, all on emergency conditions. The team has also activated Tanner Pearson off of injured reserve, while loaning Brogan Rafferty to the taxi squad.
The Canucks, who had more than 20 positive tests within the organization during the epidemic, still have a number of players out, forcing the team to bring up numerous taxi squad players to fill the void against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight until players are able to return.
The Athletic’s Rick Dhaliwal reports that Brisebois and Jalen Chatfield are expected to play Sunday, while Lind and Ashton Sautner will participate in pre-game warmups, but neither is expected to play. Pearson is expected to return. He has been out since March 17 with a lower-body injury and should give the team a much-needed boost on offense.
Where there is smoke, there is usually fire. And where there are Devils… well, you get it. There are hints being dropped from Newark to Binghamton to Utica and it all points toward a change in AHL affiliation for New Jersey. According to multiple sources, the club is expected to move their farm team, currently the Binghamton Devils, to Utica, currently the home of the Utica Comets, affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. The move is expected to take place before next season and team would be re-branded as the Utica Devils. There is no word yet on the Canucks’ affiliation plans or the AHL future in Binghamton.
News first emerged hinting at this change on Friday when WBNG in Binghamton reported that there was a growing dispute between the ownership of the New Jersey Devils and the Binghamton Devils. Though it is unclear which side feels it has been wronged, it is believed that Binghamton playing the current season in Newark is considered part of the problem. The current agreement between the two organizations extends through the 2021-22 season, but it seems that it could be cut short by this current animosity.
Digging for answers as to where their team might be headed, WBNG discovered that Utica Comets president and former NHLer Robert Esche recently filed a trademark with the USPTO for “Utica Devils”. The wide-ranging application requests a service mark not only for general advertising use, but also for a number of merchandise groups. There are clearly big plans in place for this trademark, even though the AHL has not yet received a formal request for the location change. WBNG also notes that Utica does have an opt-out clause after this season in its affiliation agreement with Vancouver, making it a realistic landing spot for the Devils.
Then earlier today, WBNG reported that, whether it be to Utica or elsewhere, the AHL Devils are on the move. Binghamton Exec. VP of Operations Tom Mitchell confirmed that the team has received formal notice of the dissolution of their agreement with New Jersey. “The demands [the New Jersey Devils] were putting on us were absolutely impossible and we just couldn’t comply with them,” Mitchell said. “So it looks like we’re going to part ways, and just try to move on.” Mitchell did not know about any previous talks that New Jersey may have had with Esche and Utica, saying he was surprised to hear about the trademark application. As far as Binghamton’s hockey future, he could only add that he felt the city could attract another pro team and will get to work on that immediately.
As for Vancouver, perhaps the party most in the dark in this situation, The Province’s Patrick Johnston reports that the Canucks have not made a comment on the situation and not much is known about their future affiliation plans. A recent trend in the AHL has been for NHL teams to move their prospects closer to the main club, so the Canucks’ keeping their affiliate out in the Eastern U.S. might not make much sense. Johnston notes that the team has previously discussed the possibility of an affiliate in Abbotsford, British Columbia, the former home of the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat. He also notes that California now sports a large quantity of AHL clubs, soon including the Seattle Kraken’s affiliate as well, so Vancouver could look at options in that area as well.
Earlier this week, the Canucks were hopeful that Elias Pettersson would be able to return to their lineup when they returned to the ice and it was only pending a sign off from a specialist to give him the green light. That won’t be happening. Instead, GM Jim Benning told reporters, including NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley, that the visit to the specialist has yielded a longer recovery timeline including the possibility that Pettersson doesn’t come back this season after all. It has been a tough year for the 22-year-old who had a big slump early in the season and now could wind up missing more than half the year with this wrist injury. He’s set to become a restricted free agent this summer.
- Also from Woodley’s column, goaltender Michael DiPietro is expected to be on Vancouver’s roster when they play against Toronto on Sunday. While Benning wouldn’t identify which goalie isn’t ready to return, he suggested that DiPietro, who hasn’t played a game at any level in more than 13 months, could see some action which implies that whichever netminder out of Braden Holtby or Thatcher Demko doesn’t dress then could be out for a little while. The 21-year-old has two career appearances with the Canucks, allowing eight goals on 31 shots.
In response to the Vancouver Canucks’ recent medical testing (as well as some choice comments from J.T. Miller) the league decided that tonight’s game was not able to be played. Tomorrow’s scheduled match against the Toronto Maple Leafs has also been pushed, with it now being set for Sunday evening. The ripple effect of these changes spread out across the entire North Division (save for the Ottawa Senators), with more than a dozen other schedule alterations announced today.
- Game #697, Toronto at Vancouver, scheduled for April 17, is now scheduled for Sunday, April 18 at 7 p.m. ET
- Game #710, Toronto at Vancouver, scheduled for April 19, is now scheduled for Tuesday, April 20 at 9 p.m. ET
- Game #726, Toronto at Winnipeg, scheduled for April 21, is now scheduled for Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m. ET
- Game #829, Edmonton at Vancouver, scheduled for April 16, is now scheduled for Monday, May 3 at 10 p.m. ET
- Game #844, Edmonton at Vancouver, scheduled for May 6, is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 4 at 10 p.m. ET
- Game #593, Vancouver at Edmonton, scheduled for May 4, is now scheduled for Thursday, May 6 at 9 p.m. ET
- Game #526, Edmonton at Montreal, scheduled for May 11, is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 12 at 5 p.m. ET
- Game #647, Vancouver at Calgary, scheduled for May 3, is now scheduled for Thursday, May 13 at 9 p.m. ET
- Game #741, Toronto at Winnipeg, scheduled for April 23, is now scheduled for Friday, May 14 at 8 p.m. ET
- Game #673, Vancouver at Edmonton, scheduled for May 13, is now scheduled for Saturday, May 15 at TBD
- Game #567, Calgary at Vancouver, scheduled for April 21, is now scheduled for Sunday, May 16 at TBD
- Game #864, Calgary at Vancouver, scheduled for May 15, is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 18 at TBD
- Game #634, Vancouver at Calgary, scheduled for May 16, is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 19 at TBD
Tomorrow’s game between the Oilers and Jets has also been pulled up three hours to fill the now-vacant primetime spot on Hockey Night In Canada.
Important to note here is that the North Division schedule now extends through May 19, the last day the NHL had built into their “buffer” before the playoffs are set to begin. Perhaps even more telling is that all those games scheduled past May 15 are between the Canucks and Flames, two teams who could be eliminated from postseason contention at that point.
4:10pm: The league has officially delayed the Canucks’ return to play, allowing additional time for recovery and preparation. They will not play Friday against the Oilers, and though the official release does not address the Saturday game against the Maple Leafs, Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic tweets that the expectation is that it will also be postponed.
2:20pm: The Vancouver Canucks haven’t played a game since March 24. They haven’t even really practiced during that time, with most of the team testing positive for coronavirus and quarantining for the last few weeks. Now, with players coming out of the protocol the team was expected to play a back-to-back on Friday-Saturday and fit the rest of their schedule—19 games—into just 31 days. Yesterday, J.T. Miller spoke up about the issue, telling reporters including Thomas Drance of The Athletic that what the Canucks were being asked to do isn’t safe, suggesting that even the players who did not contract the virus aren’t ready to compete at the NHL level.
Today, after medical and conditioning testing in the facility—a practice that was closed to the media at the last moment—it looks like at least one more game will be postponed to give the team some more time. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the team will not play their Friday game against the Edmonton Oilers, though it is unclear whether Saturday’s matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs is still a go.
At one point, the Canucks had basically their entire roster on the COVID Protocol list, with more than 20 positive test results in the organization. The team recalled 20-year-old goaltender Arturs Silovs–he of one game of professional experience–to the taxi squad along with Guillaume Brisebois yesterday in preparation for fielding an uncertain lineup.
Perhaps the most striking debate regarding the Canucks season is whether they need to play all 56 games at all. The team is now ten points back of the Montreal Canadiens for the final playoff spot in the North Division and seems unlikely to close that gap with such a condensed schedule (not to mention coming off such a long break). Games against the last-place Ottawa Senators for instance could potentially be chopped off the schedule, but it’s hard to decide just how to go about the rest of the games that could have playoff implications for the opponent. For instance, the Canucks have already played their full allotment of matches against the Montreal Canadiens, going 3-5-1 in the process. If the other playoff teams are not allowed to play their remaining games against one of the worst teams in the league, there could be some who feel the North Division standings are unfair, even if points percentage is used to determine seeding.
The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline came and went with relatively little fanfare. Deadline day saw just 17 trades made (a new 8-year low) that involved only 26 players (a new 20-year low). The obvious downside to a quiet deadline is that it’s not very exciting to follow and doesn’t create the same number of stretch run storylines to follow. The upside? With so little news to cover, nothing slipped through the cracks. Insiders, such as Elliotte Friedman, have come out with more “almost-trades” than in most years and they have been compiled below. Enjoy reveling in what could have been:
Nicolas Deslauriers to the Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins and Anaheim Ducks came so close on a trade for Deslauriers that an article was published on the topic. Friedman reported that a deal was done, but then backtracked as talks fell apart. Pittsburgh ended up adding experience to their bottom-six from another West Division source, adding Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings.
Jamie Oleksiak to the Edmonton Oilers
In the middle of the deadline day chaos, several pundits reported that Dallas Stars defenseman Oleksiak was on his way to Edmonton. Yet, as time ticked by and there was no announcement, it became clear that a deal had not been completed. Oleksiak had been linked to both Edmonton and the Toronto Maple Leafs but stay put, with the speculation now being the the Stars hope to re-sign him. The Oilers, who also missed out on Patrik Nemeth, ended up finding their stay-at-home defenseman in the New Jersey Devils’ Dmitry Kulikov.
One of the biggest misses of the deadline was the Jets’ failure to add an impact defenseman. Winnipeg did add Jordie Benn late, but that hardly fills their gaping hole in the top-four. In retrospect, the mistake may have been focusing too much on defensemen who weren’t truly available. Friedman believes that the team tried to acquire either Gavrikov or Goligoski, or perhaps even both. Gavrikov would have been a very nice addition for the Jets, but by all accounts the young Columbus Blue Jackets defender was not really for sale. And while the Arizona Coyotes were expected to listen to offers for their expiring contracts, they ended up standing pat and not moving the veteran Goligoski. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the Chicago Blackhawks were at least listening to offers for RFA blue liner Zadorov as well and the Jets made a push, but to no avail.
Taylor Hall to the New York Islanders or Vegas Golden Knights
Friedman began his post-deadline “31 Thoughts” by confirming the suspicions that Hall left the Buffalo Sabres little choice but to trade him to the Boston Bruins, stating that Hall had decided that was where he wanted to go and used his No-Movement Clause to make it happen. However, two other teams made a strong push and that was the Islanders and the Golden Knights. Hall was even open to joining New York, but once they acquired Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac he turned his focus to Boston even though the Isles maintained interest. The Sabres were seemingly very interested in making a deal with Vegas, as Friedman notes that multiple teams were contacted about acting as a salary cap broker for a potential deal. In the end, Hall preferred Boston and that is all that mattered.
Many have been critical of the Sabres’ return for Hall – a Boston second-round pick and forward Anders Bjork – but they tried their best to get more. Friedman reports that Buffalo asked Boston about moving one of their promising young keepers, as both Vladar and Swayman have shown NHL ability in recent weeks as the injury replacements in the Bruins net. However, once Boston knew that Hall wanted to go there and could control the decision, they held all the leverage. The team easily declined moving either talented netminder.
Conor Garland to the Toronto Maple Leafs or Vegas Golden Knights
While the team ended up acquiring Nick Foligno instead, Friedman notes that the Toronto Maple Leafs did express interest in affordable Arizona Coyotes forward Garland. Garland would have fit nicely under the cap, but would have been expensive to require and near impossible to re-sign for the cap-strapped Leafs. The team thus went in a different direction. The Golden Knights were also linked to Garland, but could not make a deal work with their division rival. Garland remaining with the Coyotes could be what is best for both parties in the long run anyhow.
Ryan Getzlaf to the Vegas Golden Knights or Montreal Canadiens
The Golden Knights just missed out on seemingly everyone, huh? Friedman notes that the team was close to adding Anaheim captain Getzlaf and the career Duck was open to the nearby move. However, Vegas allegedly was unwilling to meet the trade demands for the veteran center. For the same reason, the Canadiens likely missed out. Friedman notes that they had serious interest, but talks never got far. Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now adds that the Penguins kicked the tires on Getzlaf as well, but never made a serious offer. Anaheim clearly put a high price tag on the face of the franchise and never even approached him about waiving his No-Movement Clause.
Travis Zajac to the Pittsburgh Penguins
While it’s easy to lose track of when trades were made and talks were had around the deadline, per Friedman it seems the Penguins had their sights first set on Zajac from New Jersey, then Getzlaf, and finally Carter. The Kings veteran is not a bad acquisition for a third choice. The Penguins do have to face Zajac on a fellow East Division contender the rest of the way though and surely hope that Carter proves to be the superior player head-to-head.